Summary: Joseph demonstrated great grace when he invited his brothers to eat with him--the same grace Jesus offered the Canaanite woman, and the same grace He offers you.
Texts: Genesis 45:1-15
Date: Sunday, August 18, 2002
Author: Rev. Jonathan K. Twitchell
When we began our study of Genesis back at the end of May, we learned who the Main Character was. In Genesis chapter 1, we watched as the Author of the play also made Himself known as the Set-designer, Director, Casting Agent, and Producer. And then, we watched as He created mankind in His image, indicating that He was also the Main Character. Each one of the characters in the play were to reflect His Image, revealing His Divine attributes to all who would watch and listen.
Unfortunately, as the story progressed, mankind didn’t do so well at revealing the Image of God. It began with disobedience and stealing, followed by lying and deceit. Soon to follow were envy and murder, later followed by adultery and drunkenness. The world became so corrupt that God wanted to give humanity a second chance in fulfilling their purpose, and so He chose one righteous family to survive a flood. Noah and his family were then given the challenge of filling the earth with righteous people who would display the Image of God. And yet, once again, humanity turned to it’s own devices, ignoring its creator, and falling into sin and wickedness.
And so, this time, God attempted to choose out one person to be the father of a great nation. Abraham was chosen, and his descendents were to be the chosen people, a royal priesthood, through which all nations were to be blessed. The promise was passed to Isaac, and then to Jacob-who was later renamed Israel. The nation of Israel was to display the Image of God to the Gentile nations, fulfilling the promise to Abraham that all nations would be blessed through his descendents.
And yet, people continued to fail in the task of revealing the Image of God. Abraham attempted to accomplish the promise by his own doing, having relations with the maidservant Hagar. Later, Isaac was born, and because of the struggles between them Hagar and Ishmael were dismissed to wander in the wilderness. In the next generation, we saw Jacob, the trickster, fail at displaying God’s Image by bargaining with his brother and deceiving his father in order to inherit God’s blessings. In the next generation, Joseph’s brothers certainly were not displaying God’s Divine attributes when they allowed envy and jealousy to turn them against their brother Joseph. We might wonder if God’s purposes would ever be revealed, and if there would ever be one who would adequately display His Likeness to the world.
And today, in one brief glimpse, we see Joseph responding in such a way that could only be empowered by the Grace of God at work within him. Today, we don’t see a human failing, but we see God working in the life of Joseph, revealing Himself to us through the character of Joseph. Hear these words from Genesis 45:
1 Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.
3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.
4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 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. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. 9 Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. 10 You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me--you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. 11 I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’
12 “You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. 13 Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.”