After being apart for 22 years Joseph and his brothers are all together once again. The circumstances are drastically different. Now Joseph has the upper hand. No doubt there was a time in his life when he would have used that to great advantage over his brothers. But not anymore. Joseph had seen God's handprints all over his life. He knew exactly why he was in Egypt and he had made peace with his life. Seeing his full brother Benjamin, listening to Judah's plea, and hearing about his father showed Joseph his brothers were at a place of repentance.
This was an official meeting at Joseph's house and other Egyptian officials were present. Joseph, who was always in control could no longer contain himself. This was not state business anymore, it was personal. He dismissed the Egyptians, who were obedient and left. But most likely they did not go far in case Joseph needed something. And they were curious!
Put yourselves in the place of the brothers. This Egyptian had messed with them. He had them tossed in prison for three days. He kept Simeon until the brothers returned to buy food a second time. When they had eaten with him, he seated them in order of their birth. Now it was just the Egyptian and them. What might he do next? Three words turned their world upside down. I am Joseph! They were terrified and speechless. And they stood guilty before their judge. None of them said I thought you looked familiar. No one claimed to recognize Joseph's voice. They stood in front of him as though they were cast in stone. He was weeping, and not silently. This was an ugly cry. What Joseph said next must have also rocked their world. They had heard his screams and pleading when they dropped him in the cistern. They saw fear when they took his fancy robe away and sold him. They had not thought of all the consequences selling Joseph would bring. They did not think about their father who loved Joseph way more than they did. All they thought of was ridding Joseph from their lives. They did not think they would ever have to deal with him again. Yet there he stood before them.
Yes, the brothers had done wrong, not only to Joseph but to their father as well. Maybe they did deserve to be punished. But Joseph was a different person now. We see Christ like behavior here. Listen in. “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. God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then it was not you who sent me here, but God.” God had used the evil the brothers had done for good. In chapter 50 Joseph tells the brothers just that...you meant it for evil, but God intended it for good. Even though this sounded like good news the brothers still did not speak. Not only had their world been turned upside down, but someone had also given it a good shake. This man was their brother, but he was not angry, and he was not going to kill them and in fact God had been in the middle of everything. How would they explain this to their father?
This story of Joseph and his brothers teaches us to recognize the sovereignty of God in our lives and to trust His promises no matter how dark the day might be. God sent Joseph to Egypt so that Jacob's family would be preserved, and the nation of Israel would be born and ultimately give the Word of God and the Savior to the world. Without realizing it, Joseph's brothers were helping the Lord fulfill His covenant with Abraham. Perhaps the words Joseph spoke to his brothers seemed too good to be true. After all, Joseph had messed with them before. But he was speaking Hebrew to them and maybe they did recognize his voice after all.
Hidden sin had been exposed and dealt with, forgiveness had been granted, and it was time for reconciliation. This was possible because Joseph had suffered and triumphed. God had done a mighty work in him. This is a picture of what Jesus did for sinners in His death on the cross and His resurrection. Like Jesus, Joseph went from suffering to glory, from the prison to the throne. And He was able to share His wealth and glory with others. This is also a picture of Christ's experience with His own people Israel. They rejected Him when He came the first time, but they will recognize Him and receive Him when He comes the second time, and they will weep and repent.
Finally, his brothers talked with him. When Joseph was a kid at home the brothers hated him so much, they could not even talk with him. Now that there is reconciliation and forgiveness communication is possible. And we see the covenant promise God made with Abraham beginning to be fulfilled. Chapter 46 lists Jacob's family, 70 members in all who come to live in Egypt. From them God will make a great nation, just like He promised.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W