Summary: Part 4 focuses on Joseph's revelation to his brother and his understanding that God had established him to save the lives of his family as part of His promise to Abraham.
Now Is Not The End Part 4
Scriptures: Genesis Chapter 42-50; Exodus 13:19
This morning I will complete this series I’ve titled “Now Is Not The End”. During the past three weeks we have followed Joseph’s trials and tribulations as he was sold into slavery. During each and every trial, Joseph walked with God even though he did not know where it would take him – his end. Joseph’s focus was to ensure that his every step was in line with God and through that, he was able to come into the position that God had prepared for him some thirteen years before. As we come to the end of this series, I want to focus on his revelation to his brothers and what he said about everything that happened to him. This morning I want to complete this message by examining his confrontation with his brothers and his final message upon his death bed. In this message this morning we come to understand how we can release anger, bitterness and past hurts/offenses as we recognize what God has done/was doing through everything we experienced. This message is about forgiveness which comes through knowing when God is working something out – in us and in others. Let's begin with his first meeting with his brothers.
I. Jacob Meets His Brothers
In chapter forty-two of the book of Genesis, the seven years of plenty was over and the famine had begun. Joseph’s family had run out of grain and his father Jacob directed his sons to go to Egypt for bread because he had heard that there was bread in Egypt. (Remember, only Joseph and the leaders of Egypt knew how long this famine would last. No one outside of Egypt was prepared for this famine because they did not know that it was coming.) Jacob told his sons that they had to go to Egypt in order for them to live. Neither Jacob nor his other eleven sons understood that their lives now rested in Joseph’s hands. The ten older brothers of Joseph (his younger brother Benjamin did not accompany them) left for Egypt to purchase grain for their family. Let’s begin at verse six. “Now Joseph was the ruler over the land; he was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. When Joseph saw his brothers he recognized them, but he disguised himself to them and spoke to them harshly. And he said to them, ‘Where have you come from?’ and they said, ‘From the land of Canaan to buy food. But Joseph had recognized his brothers, although they did not recognize him. Joseph remembered the dreams which he had about them and said to them, ‘You are spies; you have come to look at the undefended parts of the land.” (Vss. 6-9)
When Joseph saw his brothers he recognized them immediately, but they did not recognize him. Remember, Joseph at this time looked like an Egyptian in the way he was dressed and with his clean shaven face. When Joseph was sold into slavery he was a teenager while his brothers were grown men. Joseph would have changed a lot more than his brothers during the last twenty-two years. So he recognized his brothers even though they did not recognize him. When his brothers bowed down to him Joseph remembered the dreams that he had and understood fully at this point that God’s hand had been with him through everything. God had established him for this time period to save the lives of many, including those of his family.
Have you ever had the experience of moving away from home and then returning home and using what you learned for the benefit of others? Or maybe you just learned something that seems meaningless at the time only for it to become important later as you used the information to help others? There are times when God will place within our grasp things that we will need later, only sometimes we do not recognize that it is God who is behind everything. This is similar to where Joseph was at this moment. When he saw his brothers as they came to purchase food so that they might live Joseph understood why he was in Egypt and why he had gone through everything that he did. He now understood the fullness of his journey to Egypt and that God had revealed it to him as a teenager.
Things were playing out just as God had revealed to Joseph in the dreams. Joseph, having recognized his brothers, decided to test them. Maybe he wanted to see if their hearts were as hard as they were when they sold him into slavery. Maybe he was hoping that the years had softened them. To test them Joseph accused them of being spies. They explained to him that they were not and that they were only there to purchase food for their family. Joseph in the test asked that they bring their youngest brother to Egypt to prove that they were not spies. He put them in prison for three days before releasing them to take grain back to their family, but one of the brothers had to stay behind. Immediately the brothers believed that what they had done to Joseph was now coming back on them. As they discussed their situation they were not aware that Joseph understood everything they were saying. He was now gaining an understanding of their hearts. Joseph was so overcome with emotion that he turned away from them and cried. When Joseph sent them on their way, he had given them their grain for free.