Well the last time we saw Joseph Pharaoh had promoted him from the prison to the palace making him the prime minister of Egypt. All because he was able to interpret the dream that God had given to Pharaoh. Also, because Joseph had great solutions to the famine that would be coming to the land after the seven years of abundance in the land.
But these next few chapters are about much more than Joseph’s rise to fame. There’s a lot more going on here.
First of all, the next few chapters show how God was fulfilling His promise made to Abraham many years before about how the nation of Israel would be under bondage to Egypt for 400 years.
[Read Genesis 15:13-14.]
God was building a nation that would have the strength to follow Him completely. That development included their 400 year training course in depending on God through the school of Egyptian enslavement. God had to get the nation of Israel there and these next few chapters show how He accomplished that.
It’s also worthy to note that we must remember that God’s always at work at something much bigger than us all the time. Ye He works in and through our individual lives, but it’s always a part of a grander plan. Just like here with Joseph.
So that’s the first theme – God moving Israel into Egypt.
But the second theme that’ll be brought out in tonight’s passages is the principle found in Numbers 32:23, “Be sure your sin will find you out.”
In that passage the people were promising Moses that they would obey the Lord’s commands concerning the land. Moses responded by assuring them that if they disobeyed the Lord, their sin would find them. In other words, they could not hide their sin from God. They might be able to hide it from man – but not from God. And since we have a holy and just God, they would have to answer for their sins.
[Luke eating crayons story.]
So let’s see how develops that theme through the events in Joseph’s life.
I. The faith of Joseph remains
[Read Genesis 41:50-52.]
Now it’s important to remember that though Pharaoh had tried to make Joseph very Egyptian. Joseph was made to look like an Egyptian with his grooming and clothing, he was given an Egyptian name, he was given an Egyptian wife, and he was made ruler of Egypt. But even with all of that, Joseph remained very Jewish. Look at the names he gave his sons.
- Manasseh, “forget”
- Ephraim, “fruitful”
Both of these are Hebrew names and both have everything to do with God blessing his
life. These names stood as constant reminders to everyone, and to Joseph himself, of what God had done in his life. He might have been surrounded by paganism, but his faith in God was evident for all to see. I think that’s why the Lord continued to bless him so much!
But just like Joseph had prophesied, after the seven years of abundance in the land, seven years of famine came. So lets look at how:
II. The famine that affected everyone
[Read Genesis 41:53-57.]
The seven years of abundance was over and the fields all dried up. The people seemed to run out of food quickly as if they hadn’t prepared like Joseph had. But when they ran out they all started to come to Joseph to buy grain. The word got out and people from all over the world started to come to Egypt to buy and trade for food.
Not only did this provide for people’s needs, but it surely increased the wealth and power of Egypt in the land. So while the famine made people dependant on Egypt, it also made Egypt the first, real superpower in the world.
So if the whole earth had been affected, it must have affected Joseph’s family back home. Here’s where they come into the picture.
[Read Genesis 42:1-9a.]
Joseph’s dreams were coming true and he knew it!
[Read Genesis 37:6-7.]
Not only was the dream true concerning the brothers bowing down to him, but also the fact that his grain stood tall while they were experiencing the famine.
So in this moment of recognizing his brothers, Joseph also recognized God’s faithfulness. But how come the brothers didn’t recognize him? Well remember that 15 years had passed. The last time they saw Joseph he was 17 years old – now he’s 32. Also, he had been groomed and dressed to look like an Egyptian. So we can understand why they didn’t know it was Joseph.
But he sure knew them. And in that moment of recognition he remembered what they had done to them. But wait, there was only 10 of them. Where was his brother Benjamin? Did they treat him like they had done to himself? Joseph had to know for sure if his only brother from his own mother was still alive. So he comes up with a plan to find out for sure keeping in mind that he simply cannot trust his brother’s word. He needed proof.