Summary: How Joseph does the unimaginable by forgiving, and God does the unimaginable by working evil out for good.
August 11, 2002 Genesis 45:4-8
“I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 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. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. “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.
We are quickly approaching the one year anniversary of 9-11. Almost one year ago, a group of terrorists hijacked passenger planes and flew them into the world trade center towers, to everyone’s surprise. Life is full of unpredictable things. What is even more surprising is that this attack actually piqued an interest in Islam, so that it is now the fastest growing religion in the world. Who would’ve thunk it? Certainly not I.
Surprise is the opening element of today’s lesson, as Joseph reveals his identity, and it continues throughout the whole chapter. Some unimaginable things take place between Joseph and his brothers. So today, as we continue to look at the story of Joseph, we’ll consider that very theme,
Who Would’ve Thunk It?
Let’s review the story once again up to this point. Joseph had been in slavery 22 years at this point, and his brothers had now made their second trip to Egypt for food. They had brought Benjamin along as Joseph instructed them to. However, he then proceeded to plant his silver cup of “divination” in his bag, framing him for a crime that he didn’t commit. It was at this point that Judah pleaded with Joseph saying, “what can we say. God has uncovered all of our guilt. We all deserve to be your slaves.” But when Joseph only requested Benjamin, Judah pleaded with him to let Benjamin go and send him into slavery instead.
Joseph had been pretending to be an Egyptian king up to this point, putting his brothers into jail and drilling them up to this point, to try and get them to reflect upon their sin and come to repentance. When Judah, then, gave this wonderful confession and offered this sacrifice, Joseph could no longer contain himself. In an instant he ordered all of his servants out of the room, and the well waters opened, as he burst out in tears. The brothers must have wondered what was happening when Joseph just blurted out, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” This was not a very “royal” thing to do!
I. He lives
Think about that. What were the odds that Joseph would end up as the GOVERNOR of the Egyptians and the FATHER of the Pharaoh himself? In human terms, it would be a million to one. Yet God had predicted it through Joseph’s dreams, and so the probability was actually very high - more like one to one. The brothers were beyond dumbfounded. It actually says, his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. If they had met Joseph on the road, back in Israel, or even as a slave, that would have been surprising enough - they wouldn’t have had to fear his vengeance. But as the ruler of Egypt, they suddenly realized that their hopes of a happy future were unlikely. The odds were for them to be whipped, stoned, or throne into prison.
This reminds me of how terrifying it will be for those who have rejected Christ - when he appears on Judgment Day. Revelation 1:7 says, Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. John the Baptist said, His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. When all of those unbelievers stand before the throne of God, imagine the awe that they will be in! “Oh no, he really was the Christ! He really was the Savior! He really does live! It can’t be true! It can’t be true!” Their knees will shake. Their jaws will drop. But by then, there will be no time for bargaining. No second chances. The books will be opened and shut - the verdict made. Jesus will say to them, “so, you wanted to live without me? Now you can live without me forever, in hell.”