Joseph’s Life and Lessons, Part 6

March 5, 2019 at 3:29 PM 1 comment

It’s been a while I realize because of the articles I wrote on 5G, but I really do want to get back to our friend, Joseph, whose life was certainly not at all pleasant for at least 13 years or so. He put up with the rejection and hatred of his brothers, who sold him into slavery and lied to father Jacob that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal, was falsely accused of rape, and experienced the indignity of being sent to prison as an innocent man. Honestly, I compare problems in my life to his and there is no comparison and yet, I tend to complain about what I consider my indignities.

In our last article – Part 5 – we learned in Genesis 41 that Joseph was finally released from prison and immediately elevated to the second in command under that current Pharaoh and it’s difficult to know exactly who that Pharaoh was then. It is likely that this Pharaoh was the last of the Hyksos, who conquered Egypt and converted them to monotheism. It’s also possible that the Pharaoh after Joseph came from the outside of Egypt because he had not heard of Joseph.

At any rate, the particular Pharaoh who ruled Egypt at the time of Joseph’s incarceration saw tremendous insight and wisdom in Joseph, promoting him from his prison cell to the royal palace. Of course this was God’s design but imagine how Joseph must have felt at times?

Have you ever experienced “dry” times in your walk with Christ? It seems that you’re doing nothing special and yet there is this pull inside you to do something but you don’t know what? Imagine Moses, who tended sheep for his father-in-law until Moses was 80. Imagine how often Moses must’ve thought about purpose in life and how he went from the royal palace in Egypt to the fields tending sheep? Imagine him searching for sheep that had drifted off only to come into contact with the Living God as His glory burned a bush but didn’t burn it up? This was God’s design and for Moses, it provided answers that he immediately tried to pull away from and didn’t want to be involved in. Yet, God persisted with Moses making him the greatest prophet under Jesus. No one after Moses except Christ, had that kind of relationship with God that Moses enjoyed. It is very hard for us to wait, isn’t it?

Joseph was in prison for several years and just waited for release. He apparently trusted God but probably cried himself to sleep at night on more than one occasion.

Starting in Genesis 42, things start to heat up again for Joseph and his brothers. Because of the famine that was all over the Land that God had revealed to Joseph, food was scarce and Jacob had heard about food being available in Egypt. Of course, he’s referring to grain from which food is made. Back in those days, people had to know how not only to grow produce, but to turn it into food dishes. Grains were very important and are nothing like the GMO grains available today. Avoid them like the plague they are and your body will appreciate it.

You have to appreciate Jacob in his approach to his sons in Genesis 42:1b, “Why do you look at one another?” The implication is why are you standing around doing nothing though we’re very low on food? Other parents have asked that question in various forms over many generations. Too often, children come to rely on their parents instead of taking initiative on their own.

Jacob follows his question up with a statement. “Behold, I have heard that there is grain for sale in Egypt. Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die” (v 2). So everyone was hungry but instead of taking the bull by the horns, the eleven sons were twiddling their thumbs wondering who was going to provide food. It took elderly Jacob to light a fire under his sons.

Verse 3 tells us ten of the brothers headed to Egypt to buy grain. The youngest, Benjamin, remained behind. Jacob didn’t want Benjamin going because he was afraid that some harm might come to him. After all, he had previously lost his son, Joseph, who was the apple of his eye as evidenced by the coat of many colors given to Joseph. Parents should never love one child more than the other, but often parents elevate one child over another because of likes and/or dislikes. This caused jealously among Joseph’s older brothers. They saw him as the favored son so they came to despise him.

So Jacob’s ten sons arrive to Egypt and eventually learn that they would have to do deal with the Governor over all Egypt, namely Joseph (v 6). Of course, so many years had passed and Joseph likely appeared to be Egyptian (face/eye paint and dress), which would have made it very difficult for them to recognize him as their brother. Beyond this, the last thing they would’ve expected was for their own brother, whom they sold into slavery, to end up being second in command over all Egypt!

Also interesting is the fact that Joseph’s brothers fulfilled Joseph’s dream years earlier when he stated that the sheaves bowed before his sheaves (Genesis 37) and we see this in verse 6b.

And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground.

The next verse tells us that Joseph recognized his brothers and why wouldn’t he? They likely hadn’t changed much except they had gotten older but they still resembled their former selves from roughly 13 years prior. In essence, Joseph was incognito, like a fly on the wall and in charge of the situation.

Even though Joseph knew the men in front of him were his brothers, he treated them roughly as though they were strangers come to Egypt to spy on them. In fact, he accuses them of this in verse 9. When he saw his brothers, the same verse tells us that Joseph remembered his previous dreams. I’m sure watching them bow before him jogged his memory and now here they were, right in front of him with no knowledge that this Governor of Egypt was in fact, their brother Joseph.

It might be tempting to think that Joseph was simply being vindictive here, but was he? Actually, he was trying to see what they were now made of. Had they changed? How would they react to being called spies? How would they go about trying to prove they were not? What was their character like now, at this stage in their life?

Joseph continued to accuse them of coming to Egypt for untoward purposes, though they continued to deny the charges. Joseph had been falsely charged. His brothers were now squirming a bit also under false charges. What would their character bring out in them?

Joseph then comes up with a plan. He tells his brothers that they are spies unless they return home and bring their youngest brother with them back to Egypt. This would prove they were simply a family in need of sustenance. They had already admitted that they had a younger brother at home and that another brother had “died” (v 13).

15 By this you shall be tested: by the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go from this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 Send one of you, and let him bring your brother, while you remain confined, that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you. Or else, by the life of Pharaoh, surely you are spies. 17 And he put them all together in custody for three days. (vv 15-17 ESV)

Joseph was actually being far more gracious than his brothers had been toward him. He was giving them a way to prove their integrity and character whereas with Joseph, the brothers gave him no chance in spite of the fear Joseph may have exhibited to them. They showed him no mercy but Joseph is being very merciful here.

So Joseph has his brothers incarcerated for three days. Interesting isn’t it? Joseph’s brothers had given him a death sentence effectively as far as Jacob was concerned. Now, his brothers would experience at least some of what Joseph did as they probably did not know for how long they would be incarcerated.

Verse 18 tells us that on their third day in custody, they were called before Joseph and he laid things out for them. He told them that if they were honest men, they could prove it by doing what he told them to do. They were to have one of them remain in Egypt in custody while the rest bought grain and took that grain home to Jacob. If they wanted to see their brother again, they would have to come back with their youngest brother Benjamin.

The next exchange in Scripture is a very interesting one, again, where Joseph is able to be seen as a fly on the wall. The brothers spoke to one another in their own language thinking that Joseph did not understand them because the text tells us that the conversation between them used an interpreter.

21 Then they said to one another, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us.” 22 And Reuben answered them, “Did I not tell you not to sin against the boy? But you did not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood.” (vv 21-22)

This is actually a confession here! They are admitting that what they did was wrong and it shouldn’t have happened. Reuben, the older brother who talked them out of actually killing Joseph and planned on going back and getting him out of the pit they threw him into but they sold Joseph before Reuben returned, then reminded his brothers what he had originally told them. They should not have done what they did. He reminds them that they ignored his advice and did what they wanted anyway. It had come back to haunt them now.

Of course, Joseph understood them because he had lived with them for 17 years and learned that language that he grew up hearing. The use of an interpreter was to hide that fact allowing Joseph to be aloof from the situation. Unfortunately for Joseph, his heart tended to give him away as Scripture tells us he had to turn away from them and wept (v 24). I’m sure the brothers were wondering what was going on at that point? Who was this Governor? Why was he crying? Weird. However, he may have waited until he got out of their hearing because verse and “returned” to them.

Joseph also took Simeon and bound him before their eyes. Joseph also ordered that their money be placed in each man’s grain sack. Why the duplicity? He was trying to determine their level of honesty. Had they truly changed? He would find out.

On the way home, they learned that all their money had been returned to them (vv 26-28) and they were shocked! Now what? How did their money get into their sacks?!

Verses 29 through 38 explain what happened when they arrived back home. They had grain yes, but their money was also there. It appeared that there was some mix-up and would certainly make them look like thieves. Father Jacob was not happy.

And Jacob their father said to them, “You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has come against me.” (v 36)

Can you blame Jacob? He had lost one son and was in danger of losing another and the Governor of Egypt wanted the brothers to bring back Benjamin as well. Woe is me, Jacob thinks!

Reuben tries to reason with Jacob promising that if he doesn’t return, Jacob should kill his two sons. A bit of a weird thing to say but Reuben was desperate to prove to his father that he would not let anything happen to Benjamin. Jacob refused this offer and did not want to let Benjamin go with the brothers to Egypt. He believed he would never see him again.

As we’ll see, Jacob relents because of hunger. God continues to work and there is resolution. You cannot divorce God’s will from His timing. The two go hand-in-hand and that makes it often incredibly difficult for we Christians to live by faith. We must persevere in trusting God.

What else do we have?

Entry filed under: christianity, Cultural Marxism, Emotional virtue, eternity, israel, Judaism, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, salvation. Tags: , , .

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