Summary: February 20th, 2022.
A). GOD SENT ME HERE.
The Old Testament Joseph is very much a Type of Christ. Favoured by his father (cf. Genesis 37:3), Joseph was sold by his brethren for twenty pieces of silver (Genesis 37:28). Favoured by His Father (Luke 3:22), Jesus ‘came unto His own, and His own (people) received Him not’ (John 1:11), and He was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15).
Joseph went from his father’s favour, to the pit, and into slavery. In Potiphar’s house, he went from his master’s favour to false accusation to prison. In prison, Joseph went from the warder’s favour, to the forgetfulness of his surviving former cell-mate: but at last the LORD intervened, and Joseph was raised from prison to the position of Prime Minister of the land!
In the passage before us, we see Joseph’s brethren on their second visit to Egypt. They were totally unaware that the powerful man who had been toying with them, seemingly seeking occasion against them, was their despised brother of so long ago. Neither were they aware that he understood every word they were saying.
For Joseph, it finally became too much. “I am Joseph!” he declared. And, following that revelation, the first item on the agenda: “Does my father still live?” (Genesis 45:3). To which the reply was gobsmacked silence!
The powerful man in Egyptian regalia again spoke to his brothers: “Please come near to me” (which they did). “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt” (Genesis 45:4).
Is Joseph now beginning to accuse them, after all these years? No, he encourages them not to be angry with themselves, and three times informs them that “God sent me” here “to preserve life” (Genesis 45:5); “to preserve a posterity for you… and to save your lives by a great deliverance” (Genesis 45:7); “not you sent me here, but God” (Genesis 45:8).
Jesus said, ‘I go to prepare a place for you… that where I am there you may be also’ (John 14:2-3). In like manner, Joseph had sent word to his father, speaking of all his glory in Egypt, and providing for all his father’s posterity in the best part of the land (Genesis 45:9-11).
The likeness to Jesus continues. Given up for dead, Joseph proved to be yet alive (Genesis 45:12). And the grave could not hold Jesus!
Jesus said, in effect: ‘Love your haters, do good to those hostile to you’ (Luke 6:27). It is the kind of Love which God demonstrated when He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16), loving US even while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8). It is the kind of Love which Jesus demonstrated when He forgave Peter (Mark 16:7).
Jesus also said, ‘Be merciful, as your Father also is merciful’ (Luke 6:36). This seems to be what Joseph accomplished here. Joseph “kissed all his brothers and wept over them, and after that his brothers talked with him” (Genesis 45:15).
The whole Joseph cycle shows us the outworking of God’s providence in the life of His servant. Years later, Joseph would reiterate: ‘you meant evil against me: but God meant it for good’ - not only for His own family, but also in sparing ‘much people alive’ Genesis 50:20). All things DO work together for good for those who love the Lord (Romans 8:28).
B). FROM FRETTING TO TRUST.
PSALM 37:1. Somebody is in trouble, fretting because of the unfairness of life: but the pastor’s responsibility is not to burden the poor soul with a ‘snap out of it’ sort of approach, which often only leads to further despair; but rather to present positive encouragements to counter the negative mindset. Despite David’s use of imperatives, this passage is not so much crisp commands (‘Do this, that and the other’) as a gentle pastoral exhortation; not so much a thrice repeated ‘law’ against fretting (Psalm 37:1; Psalm 37:7; Psalm 37:8) as a call to “rest in the LORD,” patiently waiting for Him (Psalm 37:7).
PSALM 37:2. Why trouble ourselves about people who are described in the Bible as ‘like the chaff, which the wind drives away’ (Psalm 1:4), whose ‘way shall perish’ (Psalm 1:6); who shall be “cut off,” here today, and tomorrow gone (Psalm 37:9-10); whose supposed good fortunes are but ‘slippery places’ which end in ‘destruction’ and ‘desolation,’ and the ultimate ‘terror’ of being ‘despised’ by God (Psalm 73:17-20)? The positive counterpunch to such desperate despair is: ‘Let not your heart envy sinners; but be thou in the fear of the LORD all day long’ (Proverbs 23:17).
PSALM 37:3. “Trust in the LORD.” Why? Because faith cures fretting. Worried thoughts in the night are soon dispelled if we turn to unselfish prayer. “Do good,” because ‘faith without works is dead’ (James 2:26). In the Lord, our labour shall not be in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). “So shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.” We who have believed have entered into the land of rest (Hebrews 4:3), and are shepherded by the Good Shepherd. Our temporal needs are met (Matthew 6:31-33), but also, we are fed on the Word of God.