Photo credit: NotAnyRon, Creative Commons
Read Genesis 45:4-28
Joseph says to his brothers, Come close to me. And they’re all terrified at what might happen to them, because they know what they did to Joseph years ago, and Joseph knows, and they know Joseph knows. But they come close anyway. (see previous post What God Says to You)
After they draw near, Joseph says, It’s me, your brother, Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! But don’t be afraid, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me into slavery here, because God sent me ahead of you to save lives. For two years now there’s been famine, and for five more years there’ll be no plowing or reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve you, a remnant on earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
Continuing to note the remarkable parallels between Joseph’s life and Jesus’, just as Joseph gave his brothers a pardon, our Greater than Joseph, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) And even as God sent Joseph to preserve the family of Israel, God sent Jesus to preserve you, and to save your life by a great deliverance.
So it wasn’t you who sent me here, but God. He made me like a father to Pharaoh, the lord of his entire household and the ruler over all of Egypt. Now hurry back to my father and tell him, This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t wait. You’ll live in the region of Goshen and be near me — you and all your family, your flocks, your herds, all you have. I’ll provide for you there because five years of famine are still ahead. Come down or you and your household will become destitute.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35) Even as Joseph provided for his family, our Greater than Joseph provides for us.
You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it’s really me speaking to you. Tell my father about all the honor I receive here in Egypt and about everything you’ve seen. And bring my father back here, quickly.
Joseph directed his brothers to share his glory with their father. You and I are wise to share Jesus’ glory with our heavenly Father. Praising Jesus pleases the Father, even as praising Joseph pleased Jacob.
Then he throws his arms around his brother Benjamin and weeps, and Benjamin embraces him, weeping. And Joseph kisses all his brothers and weeps over them. Afterward his brothers talk with him.
When the news reaches Pharaoh’s palace about Joseph’s brothers, Pharaoh and all his officials are pleased. Pharaoh says to Joseph, Tell your brothers to load their animals and return to the land of Canaan, and to bring your father and your families back to me. I’ll give them the best land in Egypt and they can enjoy the fat of the land.
You’re also directed to tell them: Take some carts from Egypt for your children and your wives, and get your father and come. Don’t worry about your belongings, because the best of Egypt will be yours.
Part of Joseph’s purpose was to move everyone closer to him, to the land of Goshen. Our Greater than Joseph, Jesus has the purpose of drawing us closer to Him. (see previous post What God Says to You)
So the sons of Israel do all this. Joseph gives them carts, as Pharaoh had directed, and he also gives them provisions for their journey. He gives each of them new clothes, but to Benjamin he gives three hundred shekels of silver and five sets of new clothes. And he sends his father ten donkeys, loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other provisions for his journey. Then he sends his brothers away, and as they’re leaving he says, Don’t quarrel on the way!
Remember how Joseph’s brothers quarreled in Genesis chapter 42? We’re being punished because of what we did to Joseph! One said. Didn’t I tell you not to hurt him! Reuben said. But you wouldn’t listen!
Of course when they were arguing, Joseph was right there before them. Though the brothers didn’t realize it, Joseph, being fluent in Hebrew, understood every word they said. So he knew their propensity to bicker. Even as Joseph knew their tendency to argue, our Greater than Joseph knows our tendency to argue. And even as Joseph commanded his brothers not to quarrel on the way, our Greater than Joseph, Jesus, commands us, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
So they go up out of Egypt and come to their father Jacob in Canaan. They tell him, Joseph is still alive! In fact, he’s ruler over all of Egypt. Jacob is stunned and he doesn’t believe them. But when they tell him everything Joseph said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent for the journey back, the spirit of Jacob revived. And finally Israel says, OK, I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I’ll go and see him before I die.
Will God Come Through for You?
I’m working on a book right now about Kent Brown, a friend of mine who lived a most improbable life. He was in the Navy and present in Guantanamo Bay during the Bay of Pigs incident. He was a photographer for the Navy in the Gulf of Tonkin when the Vietnam war started. And Bobby Kennedy’s people had him take photographs at the Ambassador Hotel the night Kennedy was assassinated. Later he was given high level clearances by the FBI. He carried a Halliburton attache case handcuffed to his wrist, a gun in a shoulder holster, and a backup gun strapped to his ankle as he flew around the country transporting top secret documents. He was living a life most young men only dream about, until broken marriages and a broken body from a freak accident brought him to the end of himself. He lost his family, he lost his job, he lost his house, he lost it all.
It wasn’t until he was at the end of himself, he gave his life, utterly and completely gave his life, to Jesus.
Maybe you’re like Joseph’s brothers were, or like Kent Brown was, struggling to put food on the table, no pride left, no dignity — nothing, nothing left. If you are, then you’re just the kind of person Jesus is looking for. Joseph was waiting for his brothers to reach the place where they had no pride or dignity. Jesus is waiting for some of us to reach that same place.
Because so often it’s not until we’re at the end of ourselves, before we finally feel moved to completely surrender ourselves over to Jesus, even as Judah gave himself to Joseph in the previous chapter. (see previous post What Does God Want)
But though our difficulties and trials may be great, in the end, God has a way of coming through.
He did for Joseph’s family.
He did for my friend Kent Brown.
He will for you and yours.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Blue Letter Bible