Joseph; The Reunion
had been many years since his own brothers had almost killed him, opting
instead to sell him as a slave to a caravan heading for Egypt. It had been
years Joseph had spent in a wide variety of circumstances. He had been slave,
prisoner, prophet and ruler. He had been separated from his beloved father
Jacob for many years. His mother, Rachel, had died during his absence.
Joseph had undergone many trials of faith during these years. He had faced injustice. But he had always maintained his faith in the Lord God of heaven despite temporal circumstances, often adverse.
Joseph foretold, with God's help, the future that had been placed by God into the mind of Pharaoh through a dream. Pharaoh had made Joseph the governor of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh himself. Joseph used his authority to use the years before the famine to prepare for it by stockpiling food.
When the famine came, food was scarce everywhere but Egypt. Joseph's own brothers were sent from Canaan to Egypt to buy food for the family. They were uncomfortable around the stern governor, not recognizing him as their own, long lost brother whom they had mistreated so. Joseph tested them in various ways and discovered the brothers had changed so much from what they had been when they had sold him. Notice with me some of the things we learn from the reunion of Joseph with his brothers and his revealing to them his identity.
Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried, "Have everyone go out from me." So there was no man with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. He wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard of it. Then Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?" But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Please come closer to me." And they came closer. And he said, "I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. (Genesis 45:1-4)
Leaving Room for God
"Thus you shall say to Joseph, "Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong."' And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father." And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, "Behold, we are your servants." But Joseph said to them, "Do not be afraid, for am I in God's place? (Genesis 50:17-19).
Joseph's attitude expressed in this passage sounds more like a New Covenant attitude. But, in fact, though the emphasis is much greater in the New Testament on not taking our own revenge, this quality was also taught in the Old Testament. We remember that the apostle Paul wrote, Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. "BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21). Interestingly, the parts of the above passage in capital letters are direct quotes from the Old Testament. Consider the following Old Testament passages that taught God's people to forgo taking their own vengeance (Leviticus 19:18; 1 Samuel 25:26; Proverbs 24:17-19) and those that taught that God would take care of these matters (Deuteronomy 32:35; Psalm 94:1-3). I think we can all understand the Lord's instructions to us here. Sometimes, in anger, maintaining the proper perspective in this is difficult.
Rejoice and Weep
Then he fell on his brother Benjamin's neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. He kissed all his brothers and wept on them, and afterward his brothers talked with him. (Genesis 45:14-15). Jealousy had brought much pain, guilt and anguish on the brothers, and many hardships upon Joseph. Jealousy is a destroyer of human relationships. It destroys fellowship and churches as well, inhibiting the work of the kingdom. Brethren in Christ should be as one, all sharing joy when one is blessed, and all sharing sorrow when one suffers loss. The Scriptures say, Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15). When our attitudes toward one another are correct, then this kind of brotherhood will naturally follow. When it isn't because of spiritual immaturity, then there will be strife and discord (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." (Galatians 5:14).
Emotions and Truth
They told him, saying, "Joseph is still alive, and indeed he is ruler over all the land of Egypt." But he was stunned, for he did not believe them. (Genesis 45:26). Emotions are based on perceived truth, not necessarily real truth. Jacob had mourned with genuine sorrow thinking Joseph was dead when he was alive. When told that Joseph was alive after all, after so many years it just did not “feel right”, but it was. Emotions are not a reliable guide to what is true.
That is an important lesson for us to learn today. So many base what they do with God purely on what they feel they want to do. If one does not feel that God will punish the wicked, then they might say, “My God is not a punishing God.” That does not change the truth that God will judge and will repay.
There is a much more reliable way to determine what is truth. The better, and best, way is to read what God has inspired to be written in the Scriptures! And He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?" (Luke 10:26; see also Ephesians 3:4 and 1 Corinthians 4:6).
"Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. (Genesis 45:5; see vss 5-8; 50:20). God allows men to choose the course their lives will take. If some choose to commit evil, God's purpose will not be thwarted, and He will perhaps even bring about a desirable conclusion out of the evil men do. He accomplishes His purpose in His own appointed ways and time. He is on His throne, even when present grief does not make it apparent. For men and women of faith, He promises victory, and I am confident that He is able to deliver us. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (2 Timothy 4:18).
By Jon W. Quinn
Expository Files 23.4; March 2016