In my last post, we saw Joseph in the process of “testing” his brothers and for the first time saw his brothers being introspective about their sin against Joseph nearly 20 years prior.
In Genesis 42: 29- 44:33 we see the brothers finally face the gravity of their sin, as Joseph requires them to leave Benjamin in Egypt while they return to their father. Judah speaks up and pleads with Joseph not to make Benjamin stay in Egypt, as his father, Jacob will surely die if they don’t bring him back with them. He asks, “How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come upon my father.”
Genesis 45 opens with this: “Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” He then made himself known to his brothers and“he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharoah’s household heard about it. Joseph said, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. One commentator writes the word “terrified” here refers to a “paralyzing fear as felt by those involved in war. Their lives are clearly in the hands of the one they thought they killed.”
Joseph then invites his brothers to come close to him and he says, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.”
Joseph throws his arms around his brothers and weeps over them before he sends them back to their father Jacob, instructing them to bring Jacob back with them along with all the family and their possessions. He tells them they will live in the land of Goshen and he will provide for them. He admonishes them not to “quarrel on the way” and they depart. Jacob was stunned at the news but determines to go see his son Joseph before he dies.
G. von Rad comments, “Here in the scene of recognition the narrator indicates clearly for the first time what is of paramount importance to him in the entire Joseph story: God’s hand which directs all the confusion of human guilt ultimately [leads] toward a gracious goal.” Joseph describes himself as God’s agent four times in the account in Genesis. Although, many times throughout his story the reader feels like life is unfair and that God is unjustly inflicting upon Joseph some kind of cruel joke. But Joseph seems to be enabled to choose a different perspective. He chooses to believe that God is working through him to bring about what is good, not just for himself, but for others as well.
I wonder, what kind of difficult circumstance you find yourself in today? Have you tried for years to conceive to no avail? Have you or a loved one recently been diagnosed with cancer? Do you have a child with an addiction problem who refuses help? Have you discovered your spouse has been using pornography? Were you abused as a child and still suffering the consequences well into your adult life? Have you prayed for a situation in your life or in the life of someone you love only to have it get worse?
Be assured that God’s sovereign grace is at work even though it may be imperceptible now. You might want to read Psalm 86 as a prayer. It often lifts my heart when I’m feeling troubled or forsaken. Here are the last two verses:
“Turn to me and have mercy on me; grant your strength to your servant and save the [daughter] of your maidservant. Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, O LORD, have helped me and comforted me.”
May this bless you today!