II. Vs. 1-8 You sold me, God sent me
III. Vs. 9-20 Seeking relationship and not revenge
IV. Vs. 21-28 From unbelief to enough
The focus of the last chapter was pointing out difference between “regret” and “repentance”. Repentance may very well have real regret which is seen in guilt, remorse and sorrow but it goes beyond this to a change in our thinking, emotions and actions which were the cause of our failure to begin with. Joseph was led of the Lord to test the brothers to see if they had true repentance or just mere regret. This chapter deals with the reward of biblical repentance, “forgiveness”. There will never be reconciliation apart from true repentance but just what is forgiveness? The word means “to release or set free” and is most often used as a cancellation of a debt. Forgiveness is the conscious decision on the part of the person who was offended to release the person who offended them from the rightful penalty and guilt from the offense they committed. The cool thing is that when this is done both parties are free:
The offender from the penalty and guilt of the offense
The offended from the anger and bitterness in dealing with the offense
Forgiveness is not leniency or over looking the offense, it is not free as it comes at a price. Yet the offender does not pay the price but rather by the offended. Thus we see forgiveness was granted towards us who trust in Jesus our sin offended Him, but was paid for by His death.
II. Vs. 1-8 You sold me, God sent me
Vs. 1-4 It is an interesting point to realize Joseph chose to reveal his true identity, after he could see that his brothers had true repentance not mere regret. In the 42 and 43 chapters Joseph wept as well at the hearing of the brother’s confession and again at the sight of Benjamin yet in neither of those two circumstances did he reveal who he was. Only after true repentance was manifested did Joseph reveal the mystery of his identity which shows us two things:
From Joseph’s perspective forgiveness had already taken place the moment they first confessed.
From the brother’s perspective they could not receive the benefits of that forgiveness until their lives brought forth the fruit of their confession as seen in true repentance.
Here is how this works practically as far as our relationship with the Lord is concerned:
The moment we confess “speak the same as or agree with God concerning our sin” He forgives us. First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Yet we will not experience the fruit of that confession until we have repented as seen in a change of what we think, feel and act.
It is interesting that Joseph asks the Egyptians to leave the room prior to his weeping and revelation. It can’t be for fear that someone would see him weep as we are told in verse two that even the house of Pharaoh heard him weep. So why did he conceal this? Well the only answer was that he sought to conceal his brother’s sin against him from those around him. This is one of the clearest indications that you have truly forgiven someone who has wronged you, “Do you seek to conceal their wrong done to you from others?” If you don’t then chances are you have not truly forgiven them!
Picture yourself in these brother’s sandals if you will. They had a good dinner with whom they presumed was the Prime Minister of Egypt only to be stopped outside of town and accused of steeling his silver cup. They have pled guilty even though they knew they were innocent and have now found themselves ready to be sentenced. The first thing that happens to them is the Prime Minister kicks everybody out, then begins to weep uncontrollably. Know doubt they had to be wondering what was behind this sudden burst of emotions when they hear three words that must have struck absolute terror in their hearts, “I am Joseph”. I mean it is a bad day to be standing before the Prime Minister being wrongfully accused of theft and still worse to be standing before the very brother you sold into slavery 20 years earlier. Our sin always finds us out does it not? Some times it stares you eyeball to eyeball. Every word spoken from verse 3 through verse 13 comes only from Joseph’s lips and we are told in verse 3 that they were “dismayed in his presence.” The Word in the Hebrew means to be terrified which is further illustrated by Joseph’s request in verse 4 that they “Please come near to me.” These grown men were cowering in the presence of their own sin and failure, which was 20 years after the fact, the now before the 2nd most important person in the entire world. I have to admit that since I’m a guy who always roots for the underdog that I would have loved to seen their expressions, “Big mistake ha fellows, huge you could say!” One can see the parallels of how the nation of Israel will feel when we are told in Zech. 12:10 that “they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”
Vs. 5-8 Yet that is not how Joseph responds to their terror instead he assures them of several things:
Vs. 4 “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.”: First in no way does Joseph diminish their sin or call it some thing that was more palpable. For reconciliation to occur no excuse or lessening of the charge can happen in repentance, “I did it & this is what I did”. Neither Joseph nor God pretends that something never happened in order to forgive. It is only after forgiveness has been granted that it treats the offender as if the offence never happened. Forgiveness does not come about at the expense of the truth instead it comes at the expense of love which pays the price that truth demands!
Vs. 5 “You sold me here … God sent me before you to preserve life.” Wait a minute, which is true? Both! Their purpose was to thwart God’s plan by destroying the one who dreamed that they all would one-day bow down to him. Yet it was their very action of selling him that fulfilled the dream and which saved their lives. While people’s circumstances may very well be evil and wrong towards us, God can and will use even these to accomplish His purpose and plans for our lives. That is God’s sovereignty at work. Man is no less responsible just because God uses it to accomplish His purposes. In Luke 22:22 Jesus said, “truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” Poison is still poison even though it can be used to heal in the right applications.
Vs. 5 “Do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me”. Joseph does not wish them to dwell upon their failure now that they have truly repented. There are two equally disabling mistakes we make with regards to our sin:
We often fail to truly repent of our sin, oh we may regret the consequences of our action but we don’t have a change of heart as seen in our actions.
We don’t unconditionally receive God’s forgiveness, instead we beat ourselves up over our failures thinking that we should of or could of done better. If we have repented then all that is required of us is to simply receive His forgiveness.
It is clear by Joseph’s response that God ruled his life not “evil men, bad karma, adverse circumstances, bad luck or fate”. God was in control & nothing that happen upon him even by those who planed for & executed his destruction were outside of God’s loving hands.
Vs. 6-8 Joseph recounts God’s perfect timing for him being in Egypt to escape the influence of the Cananites upon God’s chosen people as well as to preserve them during the seven-year famine. So it was God’s plan to use the jealous intentions of Joseph’s brothers to cause him to be sold to the Egyptian & end up being the chief adviser “father to” Pharaoh. No doubt these words were to encourage the brothers of what he would later say at the death of their father Jacob in chapter 50:20 “What you meant for evil God meant for God.”
III. Vs. 9-20 Seeking relationship & not revenge
Vs. 9-11 The brothers are given instructions to go home and get their father with the rest of their families, then to dwell in the land North East of Egypt called Goshen. We are not sure how long all of this has taken place but it must have been some time as Joseph is concerned again over his father’s health.
Vs. 12-15 The fact that Joseph is speaking to them apart from any interpreter as he had used earlier is a sign that it truly is their brother. As far as convincing their father Benjamin will help with that when they go back to Jacob and as we shall see Jacob does not at first believe this is true.
What a great sign of Joseph’s heart of forgiveness in that he not only falls upon Benjamin’s neck but ALL of his brother’s as well. It is Joseph that initiated the contact as it is with the Lord after we repent He is the one that reestablishes our relationship with Him after we have blown it. Joseph’s desire was to have fellowship above seeking revenge and so it is with our Lord. Notice that it is after Joseph hug and kissed them that his brothers talked with him, forgiveness is always the precursor to communication! In marriage people will come in and say that they need work on communication skills but before they get those they need to practice mutual repentance and forgiveness as we see here.
Vs. 16-20 God had worked not only upon the hearts of Joseph and his brothers He has worked upon the heart of Pharaoh as well as to take carts and enough supplies to move the whole family. Not only that he says, “Don’t be concerned about your goods for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours”! How important was it in the scheme of things that Joseph maintained a great witness of the Lord in his life? How important was it that he never trashed his brothers who have so wronged him? I’m inclined to believe that Pharaoh had no idea that his brothers had been the ones who had perpetrated this crime upon Joseph. Yes, Joseph told the butler of the crime against him but never who had done it. The point is that our silence of others sins makes their restoration easier!
IV. Vs. 21-28 From unbelief to enough
Vs. 21-24 The brothers of Joseph were given carts for transportation instead of walking alongside of their donkeys. Others carts were full of provisions, clothes but to Benjamin he gave 5 changes of clothes & 300 pieces of silver. Why more to Ben? Well he was the only one who was completely innocent & was used to draw his older brothers into repentance. What I find interesting is that the brothers received a reward based upon their repentance & Joseph’s forgiveness. In other words they were blessed because of the forgiveness granted them even though they didn’t deserve it.
Vs. 25-28 Jacob’s fears must have intensified as each day passed. By the time his sons return with the news that not only is Joseph alive but the Prime Minister of Egypt his fears have so paralyzed him into unbelief. Remember Jacob was told that Joseph was dead & believed it but now he is told that he is alive & he can not believe it. Only after his sons speak al the words of Joseph & he saw all the carts from Egypt did he allow himself to believe. Think of this Christian “The only way people will know Jesus is alive is if we tell them His words & show them our carts full of His blessings in our lives!” These sons of Jacob had some explaining to do towards dad & apparently they did so as we are told in Jacob’s own words in 49:22-24 “The archers (brothers) have bitterly grieved him, Shot at him and hated him.” It is good to realize that we need to not only tell God of our sins but to confess to others as well.
Jacob went from a man that in chapter that all things were against him, (42:36) to pure fatalism thinking that if Ben did not come back he would just die (43:14). To finally saying that just to hear that Joseph was alive was “enough”. Hey, Christian what is “enough” for you & I?
Matt. 10:25 “It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master.”
1 Peter 4:3 “we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles; when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.”
I’ve personally had “enough” of me & only want to have enough of being like my Teacher & master!