GENESIS 42 – 45

JOSEPH

AND HIS BROTHERS

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42:1-6

When Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, Jacob said to his sons, 'Why do you look at one another?' And he said, 'Indeed I have heard that there is grain in Egypt; go down to that place and buy for us there, that we may live and not die.' So Joseph's ten brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. But Jacob did not send Joseph's brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he said, 'Lest some calamity befall him.' And the sons of Israel went to buy grain among those who journeyed, for the famine was in the land of Canaan. Now Joseph was governor over the land; and it was he who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph's brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the earth. Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he acted as a stranger to them and spoke roughly to them. Then he said to them, 'Where do you come from?' And they said, 'From the land of Canaan to buy food.' So Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him.

Jacob had a new favorite now. Baby Benjamin had taken Joseph's place in Jacob's heart. Notice the sarcasm with which he speaks to his sons as he was forced to send them all, except for Benjamin, off to Egypt. My, how we parents need to be reminded to take special care in how we speak to our children. Parents are the most important people in a child’s life and negative, angry and cutting comments can do a whole lot of damage to them. One psychologist likened such negativism to pouring acid on a child. Not only does it hurt them, but it leaves deep and abiding scars as well. Verbal abuse can be more damaging than physical abuse, beloved. Jacob's sons experienced something of this as they set out on a mission for their father to go to Egypt. How much better it would have been had he blessed them, encouraged them, told them he loved them and would be praying for them and how much he appreciated them going on this long and dangerous journey for the family.

So, driven by famine, the sons of Jacob arrived in Egypt and, unbeknownst to them, appeared before their brother, Joseph. And, the text says that they bowed down before him with their faces to the earth. Joseph's dream, which had caused so much trouble with these brothers, was beginning to be fulfilled to the letter (37:5-8). Joseph recognized them immediately, of course, but they didn’t recognize him. There were probably several reasons for this. One, they hadn’t seen him since he was teenager and they all had faded memories of him. He was much older ... in his late thirties (41:46). Two, he spoke the Egyptian language to them through an interpreter (v.23). Three, he was decked out and made up in the elaborate attire of an Egyptian ruler … no doubt complete with facial paint, braided hair, jewelry and all the accoutrements of his office. The last thing on earth that would have crossed their minds was that this was Joseph.

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42:7-20

Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he acted as a stranger to them and spoke roughly to them. Then he said to them, 'Where do you come from?' And they said, 'From the land of Canaan to buy food.' So Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. Then Joseph remembered the dreams which he had dreamed about them, and said to them, 'You are spies! You have come to see the nakedness of the land!' And they said to him, 'No, my lord, but your servants have come to buy food. We are all one man's sons; we are honest men; your servants are not spies.' But he said to them, 'No, but you have come to see the nakedness of the land.' And they said, 'Your servants are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and in fact, the youngest is with our father today, and one is no more.' But Joseph said to them, 'It is as I spoke to you, saying, "You are spies!" In this manner you shall be tested: By the life of Pharaoh, you shall not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here. Send one of you, and let him bring your brother; and you shall be kept in prison, that your words may be tested to see whether there is any truth in you; or else, by the life of Pharaoh, surely you are spies!' So he put them all together in prison three days. Then Joseph said to them the third day, 'Do this and live, for I fear God: If you are honest men, let one of your brothers be confined to your prison house; but you, go and carry grain for the famine of your houses. And bring your youngest brother to me; so your words will be verified, and you shall not die.' And they did so.

How Joseph's heart must have been moved when his brothers spoke to him of the one who is no more! He carefully began examining his brothers at this point. Had they changed? Were they sorry for what they had done? Did they ever think about him? How did they treat his little brother, Benjamin?

Quickly, Joseph devised a plan. Speaking to them roughly, he said … You are spies! Boy … that must have really caught them flat footed! Immediately, they vociferously began to object. But, to no avail. They would have to prove there was indeed another son by producing him. One of you, he said, will have to go and get him and bring him to Egypt. The rest would have to remain until the alleged youngest brother arrived. Then, Joseph promptly put them all in prison. This had to have been a first for the sons of Jacob. Suddenly, they were given a taste of what Joseph had had to endure for years on end. However, after only three days, Joseph released them and informed them that he had changed his mind about keeping them all in Egypt. Instead, he said he would just keep one of them until they returned with their little brother. By the way, did you catch that very first hint that Joseph gave them … as to who he was? It was when he said to them … I fear God.

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42:21-24

Then they said to one another, 'We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us.' And Reuben answered them, saying, 'Did I not speak to you, saying, "Do not sin against the boy"; and you would not listen? Therefore behold, his blood is now required of us.' But they did not know that Joseph understood them, for he spoke to them through an interpreter. And he turned himself away from them and wept. Then he returned to them again, and talked with them. And he took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes.

With this one dialogue between his brothers, many of Joseph's questions were answered. Understanding their language, he knew what they were saying to each other. And, since they had been speaking to him through an interpreter, they had no idea he understood their native Hebrew tongue. Clearly, Joseph's brothers were sorry for what they had done. The memory of their little brother’s pleadings was seared on their memories and had been bothering their consciences for years. Reuben told his brothers that all their present trouble had come upon them because of their sin against Joseph saying … his blood is now required of us. Reuben believed in divine retribution, you see.

At these words, Joseph was suddenly compelled to leave their presence and he went out and wept. What an emotionally charged encounter this was! After he regained his composure, he returned to his brothers and chose Simeon as the one to be left behind … as a pledge of their truthfulness and sincerity. Then, he commanded him to be bound in front of them all. You will remember that Simeon was the second of Leah’s sons ... Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah. So, doubtless, Simeon and Reuben were close. Judah was the one who had hatched the scheme to sell Joseph into slavery (37:26). Joseph was really testing these sons of Leah here but, more importantly, God was at work. Not only was God dealing with the hearts of these men, but he was also working out his sovereign plan to move Israel (Jacob) and all of his clan to Egypt. His will and purposes were right on track and  were unstoppable.

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42:25-28

Then Joseph gave a command to fill their sacks with grain, to restore every man's money to his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey. Thus he did for them. So they loaded their donkeys with the grain and departed from there. But as one of them opened his sack to give his donkey feed at the encampment, he saw his money; and there it was, in the mouth of his sack. So he said to his brothers, 'My money has been restored, and there it is, in my sack!' Then their hearts failed them and they were afraid, saying to one another, 'What is this that God has done to us?'

Once again, the guilt that Joseph’s brothers were carrying… combined with their haunting belief in the principle of divine retribution … came to the front. The mysterious appearance of their money in their grain bags seemed to be nothing short of supernatural and abject panic came upon them all. What has God done to us, they asked one another. Now, they concluded, they would not only be suspected of being liars and spies … but thieves as well! The furthest thing from their minds was that their money had actually been restored to them.  Joseph had returned their money simply because it belonged to his father and he wanted, at long last, to be able to just bless him.

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42:29-38

Then they went to Jacob their father in the land of Canaan and told him all that had happened to them, saying: 'The man who is lord of the land spoke roughly to us, and took us for spies of the country. But we said to him, "We are honest men; we are not spies. We are twelve brothers, sons of our father; one is no more, and the youngest is with our father this day in the land of Canaan." Then the man, the lord of the country, said to us, "By this I will know that you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, take food for the famine of your households, and be gone. And bring your youngest brother to me; so I shall know that you are not spies, but that you are honest men. I will grant your brother to you, and you may trade in the land.'" Then it happened as they emptied their sacks, that surprisingly each man's bundle of money was in his sack; and when they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid. And Jacob their father said to them, 'You have bereaved me: Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you want to take Benjamin. All these things are against me.' Then Reuben spoke to his father, saying, 'Kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you; put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.' But he said, 'My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is left alone. If any calamity should befall him along the way in which you go, then you would bring down my gray hair with sorrow to the grave.'

When the brothers arrived home, they delivered their sad report to Jacob. And, to say that he didn’t receive it well is an understatement. However, Reuben pressed his father to allow them to take Benjamin back to Egypt. Reuben's blood brother, Simeon, was precious to him, you see. But Jacob adamantly refused. He told them that Benjamin was the last of his two sons by Rachel, and if anything were to happen to him, it would literally kill him.

Also, there may also have been more going on here than meets the eye. Jacob may have said, No, to Reuben, because of the bad blood that existed between them. Something was festering in their relationship … namely … Reuben had slept with his concubine, Bilhah (35:22). Such deep and serious breaches in relationships tend to never die and they taint almost every conversation. Perhaps Jacob felt that if Reuben lost his brother, Simeon, it would serve him right. Bad blood between fathers and sons is a very hard thing. Too bad they weren’t able to get counseling and work this out between them. Then they could have looked at what happened, and why, and might have been able to forgive one another and be reconciled. Is there something that has seriously scarred your relationship with a parent or family member, dear reader? Get help. God is able to help you overcome anything if you are willing to face the problem squarely. Anything, you ask? Yes, anything.

Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me? Jeremiah 32:27

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43:1-7

Now the famine was severe in the land. And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the grain which they had brought from Egypt, that their father said to them, ‘Go back, buy us a little food.’ But Judah spoke to him, saying, ‘The man solemnly warned us, saying, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’ If you send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food. But if you will not send him, we will not go down; for the man said to us, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’ And Israel said, ‘Why did you deal so wrongfully with me as to tell the man whether you had still another brother?’ But they said, ‘The man asked us pointedly about ourselves and our family, saying, “Is your father still alive? Have you another brother?’” And we told him according to these words. Could we possibly have known that he would say, 'Bring your brother down'?

Eventually, the Jacob family ran out of food again and found themselves between the Devil and the deep blue sea. In frustration, Jacob resorted to playing the blame game ... Why in the world did you tell him you had another brother? The man asked us point blank, they replied. How were we to know he would require us to bring Benjamin to Egypt?

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43:8-14

Then Judah said to Israel his father, "Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones. ‘I myself will be surety for him; from my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever. For if we had not lingered, surely by now we would have returned this second time.’ And their father Israel said to them, ‘If it must be so, then do this: Take some of the best fruits of the land in your vessels and carry down a present for the man; a little balm and a little honey, spices and myrrh, pistachio nuts and almonds. Take double money in your hand, and take back in your hand the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks; perhaps it was an oversight. Take your brother also, and arise, go back to the man. And may God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may release your other brother and Benjamin. If I am bereaved, I am bereaved!’

Ultimately, Judah became the spokesman for all the brothers, rather than Reuben, and he offered himself to Jacob as the guarantee for Benjamin’s welfare and safety. Jacob was forced to capitulate. It was either that or they would starve. His off-hand prayer for Judah was simple … God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may release your other brother and Benjamin. This was exactly where Jacob needed to be, by the way. He needed to turn loose of the whole problem and put the matter in the hands of his God. Perfect. Can you do that with your impossible situations, dear believer? It’s the only place to be.

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43:15-18

So the men took that present and Benjamin, and they took double money in their hand, and arose and went down to Egypt; and they stood before Joseph. When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, ‘Take these men to my home, and slaughter an animal and make ready; for these men will dine with me at noon.’ Then the man did as Joseph ordered, and the man brought the men into Joseph's house. Now the men were afraid because they were brought into Joseph's house; and they said, ‘It is because of the money, which was returned in our sacks the first time, that we are brought in, so that he may make a case against us and fall upon us, to take us as slaves with our donkeys.’

When Joseph saw Benjamin … his baby brother, now grown ... immediately, he opened his home to his brothers and invited them to come to dinner. However, they attributed a very different motive to his invitation. They said it was because he planned to make slaves of them all, because they had stolen their money back from him. Isn’t it amazing, how quickly one’s heart attributes wrong motives to other people? As if we had a clue as to what someone's true motives might be. Beloved, only God can read hearts. We need to stay out of that business. He alone knows what someone is thinking and what their motives are. That's his realm, not ours. As you have it in Hebrews 4:13,

And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

One time, a wonderful Pastor from my youth said … If we could see the fears, burdens, failures, disappointments, griefs and sorrows that any one of our brothers or sisters are carrying ... we would never judge or criticize anyone again! His admonition stuck.

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43:19-25

When they drew near to the steward of Joseph's house, they talked with him at the door of the house, and said, ‘O sir, we indeed came down the first time to buy food; but it happened, when we came to the encampment, that we opened our sacks, and there, each man's money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in full weight; so we have brought it back in our hand. And we have brought down other money in our hands to buy food. We do not know who put our money in our sacks.’ But he said, 'Peace be with you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks; I had your money.’ Then he brought Simeon out to them. So the man brought the men into Joseph's house and gave them water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their donkeys feed. Then they made the present ready for Joseph's coming at noon, for they heard that they would eat bread there.

When Joseph’s brothers arrived at his house, thinking they knew what was about to happen, they stopped at the door and were afraid to go in. They thought the worst but, instead, it was the best. Immediately, they spoke to Joseph’s steward and related to him how, when they had left Egypt … mysteriously, they had found their money in the sacks of grain! But, to their amazement, the steward brushed their story off and answered that the money they had found was a gift from the God of your father. Surely, that statement must have stunned them.  Furthermore, the steward said that he still had their money that they had paid to him! Technically, this was probably true. He did have the money they had handed him. But, he had replaced it with other money. Then, the steward brought Simeon out to them and they were reunited before Joseph appeared.

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43:26-34

And when Joseph came home, they brought him the present which was in their hand into the house, and bowed down before him to the earth. Then he asked them about their well-being, and said, ‘Is your father well, the old man of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?’ And they answered, ‘Your servant our father is in good health; he is still alive.’ And they bowed their heads down and prostrated themselves. Then he lifted his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother's son, and said, ‘Is this your younger brother of whom you spoke to me?’ And he said, ‘God be gracious to you, my son.’ Now his heart yearned for his brother; so Joseph made haste and sought somewhere to weep. And he went into his chamber and wept there.  Then he washed his face and came out; and he restrained himself, and said, ‘Serve the bread.’ So they set him a place by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves; because the Egyptians could not eat food with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians. And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth; and the men looked in astonishment at one another. Then he took servings to them from before him, but Benjamin's serving was five times as much as any of theirs. So they drank and were merry with him.

When Joseph first laid eyes on Benjamin, no doubt a flood of memories came to his mind. Benjamin was his only full blooded brother. All the others were his half brothers. And he, being much older than Benjamin, must have recalled Benjamin as a baby … how he had played with him as a toddler … how he had looked after him and enjoyed him. Now, here Benjamin stood before him … a full grown young man. It was just too much. And, once again, Joseph was forced to excuse himself so he could go out and weep. When he returned, he resumed his seat and according to Egyptian custom, ate his meal apart from his sheepherder brothers. Joseph was not yet ready to reveal himself to them and so he continued to play the part of an Egyptian. However, Joseph had given his brothers another clue to his identity. To their amazement, they found themselves seated around the table in the exact order of their births!

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44:1-13

And he commanded the steward of his house, saying, ‘Fill the men's sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man's money in the mouth of his sack. Also put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, and his grain money.’ So he did according to the word that Joseph had spoken. As soon as the morning dawned, the men were sent away, they and their donkeys. When they had gone out of the city, and were not yet far off, Joseph said to his steward, ‘Get up, follow the men; and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid evil for good? Is not this the one from which my lord drinks, and with which he indeed practices divination? You have done evil in so doing.' So he overtook them, and he spoke to them these same words. And they said to him, ‘Why does my lord say these words? Far be it from us that your servants should do such a thing. Look, we brought back to you from the land of Canaan the money which we found in the mouth of our sacks. How then could we steal silver or gold from your lord's house? With whomever of your servants it is found, let him die, and we also will be my lord's slaves.’ And he said, ‘Now also let it be according to your words; he with whom it is found shall be my slave, and you shall be blameless.’ Then each man speedily let down his sack to the ground, and each opened his sack. So he searched. He began with the oldest and left off with the youngest; and the cup was found in Benjamin's sack. Then they tore their clothes, and each man loaded his donkey and returned to the city.

This was a set up. Benjamin was the target. Joseph's steward had been instructed to put Joseph's cup in Benjamin's grain sack. The purpose was to see if the half brothers of Benjamin (Leah’s boys) would throw Benjamin (Rachel’s boy) to the dogs like they had so nonchalantly done with Joseph so many years before. When the caravan was intercepted by Joseph's guards, the brothers could not conceive that any of them would have stolen the cup of the ruler of all the land of Egypt, so they confidently pronounced the death penalty on anyone among them that might be found to have it. Furthermore, they said if any one of them were found to have stolen it … they all would become Joseph’s slaves. Then, the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. What a horrifying moment that must have been. Our text says … They tore their clothes ... and returned to the city.

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44:14-17

So Judah and his brothers came to Joseph's house, and he was still there; and they fell before him on the ground. And Joseph said to them, ‘What deed is this you have done? Did you not know that such a man as I can certainly practice divination?’ Then Judah said, ‘What shall we say to my lord? What shall we speak? Or how shall we clear ourselves? God has found out the iniquity of your servants; here we are, my lord's slaves, both we and he also with whom the cup was found.’ But he said, ‘Far be it from me that I should do so; the man in whose hand the cup was found, he shall be my slave. And as for you, go up in peace to your father.’

When Joseph’s brothers arrived back in the city, they fell down before him. God’s Word certainly had come to pass in spades. In Joseph’s dream, God had said these men would fall before him … and so they did ... not just once ... but several times. At this point, Judah, the one who had concocted the original plot against Joseph, became the spokesman. He said … God has found out the iniquity of your servants. Judah was acknowledging that all this had come upon them because of what they had done to their little brother so long ago. He then offered that they all become Joseph's slaves. However, Joseph refused, keeping Benjamin on the hot-seat. He said … only the thief shall be my slave. That was ghastly news to Judah and his brothers. They had truly changed. They, themselves, would have rather become Joseph’s slaves than to leave their little brother, Benjamin, in Egypt. This was what Joseph was trying to find out.

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44:18-34

Then Judah came near to him and said: ‘O my lord, please let your servant speak a word in my lord's hearing, and do not let your anger burn against your servant; for you are even like Pharaoh. My lord asked his servants, saying, 'Have you a father or a brother?' And we said to my lord, 'We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, who is young; his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother's children, and his father loves him.' Then you said to your servants, 'Bring him down to me, that I may set my eyes on him.' And we said to my lord, 'The lad cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his father would die.' But you said to your servants, 'Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you shall see my face no more.' So it was, when we went up to your servant my father, that we told him the words of my lord. And our father said, 'Go back and buy us a little food.' But we said, 'We cannot go down; if our youngest brother is with us, then we will go down; for we may not see the man's face unless our youngest brother is with us.' Then your servant my father said to us, 'You know that my wife bore me two sons; and the one went out from me, and I said, ‘Surely he is torn to pieces’; and I have not seen him since. But if you take this one also from me, and calamity befalls him, you shall bring down my gray hair with sorrow to the grave.' Now therefore, when I come to your servant my father, and the lad is not with us, since his life is bound up in the lad's life, it will happen, when he sees that the lad is not with us, that he will die. So your servants will bring down the gray hair of your servant our father with sorrow to the grave. For your servant became surety for the lad to my father, saying, 'If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father forever. Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad as a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers. For how shall I go up to my father if the lad is not with me, lest perhaps I see the evil that would come upon my father?’

 

A painting depicting Joseph revealing 
himself to his knealing brothers.

 

My, what an intercession Judah, the son of Leah, made on behalf of Benjamin, the son of Rachel. The old rivalry was gone. It is probably not possible to fully convey the passion and sincerity with which Judah presented his case. Also, Judah pled for Joseph to have compassion on their father, Jacob. Judah hadn’t cared about the feelings of his father when he and his brothers had disposed of Joseph. But, now he does. Throughout his impassioned plea, no doubt Judah made his case with tears. I can’t see how it could have been otherwise. The result was that Judah demonstrated that he was clearly not the old Judah that Joseph had known so many years before. People do change, brother. Praise God for his wonderful sanctifying work in the lives of his people, aye? Also, isn’t it a wonderful thing to have an intercessor on one’s behalf? Throughout all this, Benjamin was standing there shaking in his boots! I’m so glad you and I have someone who intercedes for us as well … before our holy and righteous Father, aren’t you? As we have it in Hebrews 7:24-25,

But He (Jesus), because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

And again, in Romans 8:26-27,

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Isn’t that a wonderful truth? So, actually, we have two intercessors on our behalf within the Godhead. I really appreciate that because I really need them. How about you?

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45:1-15

Then Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, ‘Make everyone go out from me!’ So no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it. Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph; does my father still live?’ But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence. And Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Please come near to me.’ So they came near. Then he said: ‘I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. 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 tarry. You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near to me, you and your children, your children's children, your flocks and your herds, and all that you have. There I will provide for you, lest you and your household, and all that you have, come to poverty; for there are still five years of famine. And behold, your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my mouth that speaks to you. So you shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that you have seen; and you shall hurry and bring my father down here. Then he fell on his brother Benjamin's neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck.  Moreover he kissed all his brothers and wept over them, and after that his brothers talked with him.’

This was an incredibly moving scene. The broken words ... the sobs ... the volume ... the pathos … it made all of Joseph’s words to be heard by all that were in his house. His brothers were astonished. They couldn’t believe their ears. They didn’t know what to say. Then, Joseph said, Please come near to me. Some believe that at that time, Joseph revealed his circumcision to his brothers … the sure sign of a male member of the chosen people of God and participant in the Abrahamic Covenant. I know this may sound off the wall in our day, but I believe, under those circumstances and in that culture, it makes sense. If so, it was the final proof of Joseph’s identity. Personally, I believe that is what took place.

Joseph told his brothers … do not be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. He had it right. The whole thing was orchestrated by the sovereign and good hand of God who was working out his multifaceted and perfect plan for all concerned. As you have it in Psalm 105:17,

He sent a man before them; Joseph; who was sold as a slave.

Truly, as you have it in Isaiah 55:8-11,

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says the LORD. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.'

Let God be God, dear saint. When we do, life is sure a lot easier. And, if we can’t, God is going to be God anyway. Romans 8:28 says,

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Joseph knew that what had happened to him was from God and was in accordance with God’s sovereign purposes. Therefore, he reasoned, how could he blame his brothers? Wow! That way of thinking is both deep and wonderful and completely out of the norm, is it not? Joseph told his brothers to hurry home and tell Jacob that his son, Joseph, was alive and that he wanted him to come to Egypt so that he could care for him. Then, Joseph fell on Benjamin’s neck, and the two blood- brothers wept. Again, they doubtless had distant memories of each other from when they were young. Afterwards, Joseph kissed all his brothers and wept over them, and it says … his brothers talked with him. Joseph gave them his unreserved affection. They didn’t respond in kind. They were too shocked to respond. And, I’m sure they were waiting for the other shoe to drop! It surely would have been interesting to listen to those conversations as each brother talked with him, would it not?

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45:16-20

Now the report of it was heard in Pharaoh's house, saying, ‘Joseph's brothers have come.’ So it pleased Pharaoh and his servants well. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Say to your brothers, 'Do this: Load your animals and depart; go to the land of Canaan. Bring your father and your households and come to me; I will give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you will eat the fat of the land.’ Now you are commanded; do this: Take carts out of the land of Egypt for your little ones and your wives; bring your father and come. Also do not be concerned about your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.'

Joseph was a greatly loved and highly respected man before Pharaoh and all of the Egyptians. He was honest, fair, compassionate and a great administrator. In the Egyptian’s eyes, he had saved their bacon. He could do no wrong. Therefore, they rejoiced with Joseph when his family showed up and they did everything in their power to help and to make room for them and make them welcome.

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45:21-28

Then the sons of Israel did so; and Joseph gave them carts, according to the command of Pharaoh, and he gave them provisions for the journey. He gave to all of them, to each man, changes of garments; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of garments. And he sent to his father these things: ten donkeys loaded with the good things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and food for his father for the journey. So he sent his brothers away, and they departed; and he said to them, ‘See that you do not become troubled along the way.’ Then they went up out of Egypt, and came to the land of Canaan to Jacob their father. And they told him, saying, ‘Joseph is still alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt.’ And Jacob's heart stood still, because he did not believe them. But when they told him all the words which Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived. Then Israel said, ‘It is enough. Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.’

What a shock it must have been, when Jacob saw his sons coming home! Their caravan was absolutely laden with food … and they were driving carts … and his sons were crying … Joseph is still alive and he is governor over all the land of Egypt! The text says that Jacob’s heart stood still. Don’t you wonder what those boys told their dad when he said … How can this be? We are not told … but you can bet that question was asked. Jacob said … It is enough. Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die. God had said to Abraham,

Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Genesis 15:13-14

Once again, God’s word was being fulfilled and his plans were right on track. In Egypt, God would make a great nation from these brothers. They would be his people and he would be their God. He was placing them right where they needed to be in order to fulfill his purposes and glorify his name. This is how Israel came into the land of Egypt. Four hundred years later, the Lord would deliver them from there with a mighty hand, and through it, bring great glory to his name for all time.

By the way, God’s sovereign plans are still on track today, brother and sister. At the moment, he is calling out another people for his name’s sake. They are his sons and daughters from among the Gentiles. They make up the vast majority of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ today. Soon, he will come for them so that where he is, they may be also (John 14:1 and following).

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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