I hope through this study … you’ve been encouraged to trust God in every life situation … to truly believe in Him … and rely upon Him … God is ALMIGHTY … OMNISCIENT – all knowing … and OMNIPOTENT – all powerful … He desires to guide and direct US through our lives … just as He did to Joseph! This to me is the great hope and reward of Christian living … life is meaningful.
Today … Joseph is still a bondservant … a slave. Today … he’s still in Egypt.
The awesome thing to try to wrap your head around (comprehend) is … he is also the Governor of Egypt! That sounds impossible … but it’s true.
There’s an entire message in this fact … I haven’t figured it all out yet myself … “Joseph the bondservant-Governor.”
One lesson I see in this reality is that in our earthly lives we find ourselves in situations that may not change quickly … a job … a relationship … where we live …whatever … but inside all of “life’s” situations … God is always at work doing amazing and miraculous things with and through us … we should never forget this … whether we see it … feel it … even recognize it as it is happening. We do not see the end from the beginning.
We pick up the story today in Genesis Chapter 42.
The 7 years of plenty ar4e over … the storehouses are full of food. The 7 years of famine have started. Pharaoh has given Joseph the authority … the SOLE authority over the sale of all food in the land.
Chapter 42 actually begins with a brief flashback to Canaan … the land where Joseph was born … and from where he had been sold into slavery … we get a flashback to his family! Joseph has never forgotten his family. Especially his brothers … they had really dealt with him wrongly!
But the little vignette in the first 5 verses of Chapter 42 tells us that Joseph’s father … Jacob … is still alive and well in Canaan … except Canaan is also in the midst of the 7 years of famine … and Joseph’s family has no food.
Jacob tells his sons that he has heard there is food in Egypt and he tells them to go buy food … “that we may live and not die” in his words.
Jacob was very protective of his son Benjamin … can you understand why? Yes … Benjamin was Joseph’s full-brother … his mother was also Rachael … the wife whom Joseph truly loved. The other brothers were from other wives and concubines … they were indeed Jacob’s sons … but his affection for the children of the wife whom he loved … never weakened.
So Jacob keeps Benjamin at home … and sends the rest of the brothers off to Egypt to buy food … Now remember … Egypt was a foreign country … it worshipped foreign gods … and it had the reputation of being a strong and powerful nation.
Upon arriving in Egypt guess who the brothers are confronted by? Right … Joseph … the brother they sold into slavery!!
Genesis 42: 6 says, “And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground.” Sound familiar? Remember the dream?
When you add to this Verse 7, “Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he treated them like strangers …” you can almost hear Joseph’s heart pounding in his chest!! Though unknown at this point to the brothers … this is the moment Joseph’s dream as a young man … IS FULFILLED!!!!!
Remember Genesis 37:8 … the brothers said: “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?”
Well … here they are … faces bowed to the ground … in front of the powerful Governor of Egypt … not understanding that this mighty man … is their slave-brother …
How can you doubt the OMNISCIENCE or OMNIPOTENCE of God? He knows the end … from the beginning … what He says is true … absolutely true … we may not know how or understand why or when … but it is part of God’s OMNIPOTENCE.
There’s one more point at this place in this story … Joseph accuses them of being spies. It was part of his “investigative technique.”
The brothers insist to Joseph, “We are all sons of one man. We are honest men. Your servants have never been spies.”
This is what I call a “baloney sandwich” … Yes, they are all sons of one man alright … and … true, they were not spies … but they WERE NOT honest men … that’s the baloney between the two slices of truth.
Today … this is still a very common way of lying.
A second time they insist, “We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan, and behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is no more.”
LIE!!!!! This time, the lie isn’t sandwiched between two truthful statements … it is at the end … “and one is no more … …”
Oh really? Little do they realize to whom they are saying this lie … but it won’t be long until it all comes to light.
Well, the long and short of this incident is that Joseph sells them food … He doesn’t tell them who he is … but he holds in prison (the same one he lived in for several YEARS) his brother Simeon … as a security deposit that the brothers will bring back their youngest brother who is with their father.
This is how they will prove to Joseph they are truthful and not spies. Really … for Joseph this is the brother that he probably has missed the most … and really wants to see most of all.
They were dreading what they would have to tell their father … but can you imagine what they thought on their first night on the journey back to Canaan when they stopped to sleep … and they found that each man had the money he had paid for the food … tucked back into his sack???!!!
It gives the appearance they stole either the food or the money. But they press ahead. The story they are going to have to tell their father is getting more complicated.
When Jacob hears their tale … he is really distressed. He says it’s about to kill him … the Governor has kept Simeon … the Governor demands they return with Benjamin … Jacob is beside himself.
He blames the sons for telling “the Man” about their younger brother and their father … but the sons insist this “man” was a very clever interrogator and pried out of them every detail about their family.
After much discussion … Jacob finally agrees to send Benjamin with his nine brothers back to Egypt.
Genesis 43:15 reads, “So the men took this present, and they took double the money with them, and Benjamin. They arose and went down to Egypt and stood before Joseph.”
Forget what the brothers were feeling … imagine what Joseph felt … he is seeing his brother!!!
Scripture doesn’t give great details … but it seems that Joseph and Benjamin didn’t have much time together before Joseph disappeared … so for Joseph … this appears to have been an emotional experience.
You read that he had to go into a private place and cry … so they would not see him.
Joseph prepares a large meal … an animal was killed and prepared for a meal … and the brothers were invited to Joseph’s house for lunch.
Remember … there’s a famine going on … Joseph kills a valued animal for the feast! This was a big event.
If you read the Scripture, you’ll remember that when they left Egypt the first time with the food … Joseph had put their money back in their sacks … the brothers were paranoid … afraid they would be accused of stealing the food and money when they returned …
so when they are invited to lunch with Joseph … they immediately start worrying about what this sudden “friendliness” means … they were afraid their honesty would be questioned.
This is repeated in our own life stories.
We have offended or wronged somebody … who has inwardly forgiven us … though we may still be lying in some way about whatever the problem is or was … but the person treats us kindly.
Paranoia is considered a form of mental illness … but these guys aren’t mentally ill … they’re feeling guilty. They feel guilty because they ARE GUILTY!
They’re still lying … but they brought Benjamin … they brought double the money so they can pay back what they may owe … they brought gifts … yet … they still worry that something terrible is about to happen to them.
Their brother Simeon had been held in prison until Benjamin was brought to Joseph … so when they returned … Simeon was released and joined them for lunch with Joseph.
If you don’t read Chapter 43 of Genesis, you’ll never know all the interesting details of this fascinating event …
When Joseph saw Benjamin … he couldn’t contain himself. He went into another room and cried … and when he regained his composure, he washed his face and returned to eat … “serve the food” he said upon coming back to them.
I’m sure for Joseph it was a marvelous event.
I won’t take time to discuss all the details of the lunch and the restrictions on who could eat with who … but you really need to read this in Scripture.
The plan of Joseph’s dealing with the brothers wasn’t over. He ordered his steward to load up their animals ” …with as much as they can carry …” and as before … he put their money back in their sacks.
However, this time, he told the steward to hide Joseph’s silver cup … HIS CUP … in the sack of Benjamin.
As dawn broke the next morning … the brothers departed … Simeon restored to them … Benjamin returning with them … and off they go … no doubt relieved … with food for their family waiting in Canaan … an unusual … but successful mission.
Remember … the lie the brothers had told Joseph lingers … “we are truthful men” … yet they argued in front of Joseph … thinking he couldn’t understand their language (a translator was used).
They have admitted to each other and in front of Joseph that they are guilty of the blood of their brother … they have confessed certain issues with the Steward of Joseph’s house … but that is all history now … they’re headed home …
Jacob is going to be relieved … everybody will have food … and as we say, “and they all lived happily ever after.” WRONG!!!!
Joseph sent the Steward to overtake them … and to expose the silver cup in Benjamin’s sack … it appears he stole it.
NOW … the brother’s are suddenly in deeper trouble than they could have imagined …
They all go back to the city and before Joseph … and they hear Joseph say that Benjamin will die for stealing of the cup! Benjamin stays … but the rest can go their way.
Of course the brothers knew what this meant … and they couldn’t let this happen.
Finally … Judah … one of the 10 ugly brothers … went to Joseph and begged for mercy. He tells Joseph that if they return to their father without Benjamin … their father will be so distressed he may die … he’s a very old man …
When Joseph see’s their great concern for their father … it touches his heart and emotions … after all, Jacob is his father too … and finally Joseph breaks down.
“And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.”
And with this simple and clear declaration of Joseph … the brother’s lie dies!!!
Not by their confession … rather, by Joseph’s revelation.
It’s over … the truth is out … they are not honest men … but nonetheless … God has been in this unpleasant situation … working out a greater plan … a clear and convincing miracle.
My faith in the Omniscience and Omnipotence of God allows me to believe that He does the same for me … daily … just as He did for Joseph … and just as He is longsuffering … not quick to punish the sins of the brothers … He is longsuffering with me also for my transgressions!
The picture here of the brothers before Joseph … is symbolic of you and me before God.
We have offended him time and time again … He is the sacrifice for our transgressions … and He wants to forgive us … just as Joseph wanted to forgive his brothers …. Yet in so many ways … our lies just continue …
Today … we see anger management at its BEST … we see a forgiving spirit at its FINEST … we see the life of Joseph … faithful to God … Confident of God … fully depending on God … we see God at work in a mighty way in the life of a person fully committed to God.
May we desire to be like Joseph!!
Well … we’ll stop here today … and next week I think we will conclude this amazing story of Joseph …