Food for Thought: My name is Joseph, do you remember me?
The tension has been building and we as readers about cannot stand it. For a few chapters now we have been ready for Joseph to make his identity known. After watching the reaction of his brothers on two separate occasions and seeing Judah so ready to trade places with his brother Benjamin Joseph cannot stand it any longer either. He sends out his stewards, and other staff and he makes himself known to his brothers. Since seeing them again for the first time in chapter 42 Joseph has been holding back who he really is. Joseph is noticeably moved, and cannot contain himself and news of his weeping reaches Pharaoh’s palace. Joseph isn’t crying tears of sadness, these are tears of joy, of renewal, of reunion. His brothers are terrified. Not sure if they are dreaming or being punked, they just sort of stay put until Joseph invites them closer. Then Joseph drops the bomb on them. As far as they knew they were the 10 were the only ones who knew what really happened to Joseph. Jacob and Benjamin were told he was dead, torn to pieces by a wild animal. Now Benjamin learns the truth, and the brothers learn about God’s amazing plan. Joseph says in 45:5, “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. “ Joseph goes on to say in 45:7-8, “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 you who sent me here, but God.” For all the ten brothers knew they would never see Joseph again. The little teenage dreamer was revealing the future plans he had for his people, only somewhere between jealousy and hatred they were unable to see what God was up too!
As if the revelation of Joseph’s identity wasn’t enough, Joseph sends his brothers back to Canaan to tell Jacob the news and to bring him and the rest of his household to live in the region of Goshen (the best of the land 45:18,20; 47:6,11). Pharaoh learns of Joseph’s brothers and his family still living in Canaan and invites them all to come and live in Egypt. Pharaoh doesn’t just send an invitation he sends gifts, and a limousine (okay, it was donkeys loaded with gift and Egyptian carts, plus I have an overactive imagination). I love 45:26, the brothers have returned to the land of Canaan and we read these words “They told him, ‘Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.” Jacob is stunned; he did not believe them.” Can you imagine? Jacob had grieved the loss of his beloved son. Probably not a day passed by that he didn’t think about his son, and now after many years later and further hardship his tens sons, plus Benjamin report that Joseph his long lost son was still alive, and in fact was the ruler of Egypt. At first he doesn’t believe his sons, but remember back to chapter 37 when we first read about Joseph’s dreams, we read in 37:11 that Jacob kept the matter in mind. In other words, now that he learns about what Joseph has been up too, he remembers his son’s dreams and knows God has been working out his plan.
This story in Gen 45 is one of my all-time favorite. We are reminded that God is good all the time. Even when people harm us, or attempt to, God can and often does work out the situations for our betterment. Joseph doesn’t know when he takes the first dusty step towards Egypt that God is going to one day use him to preserve not only his family but as a blessing to the world. His days in prison probably seemed like dark days at the time, but once the right people were in place, at the right time, God’s plan advances in ways that Joseph could only dream about! Of course, as a younger man, Joseph’s dreams of bowing sheaves of grain, and bowing stars are beyond his ability to quite grasp. What we learn from Joseph is perseverance in the face of adversity. Do hardships come, yes! Will bad things happen to good people, yes! But when they do, there is no substitute for faithful obedience. Through all of these difficult things that come our way, and listen, difficult times will come – God doesn’t want our excuses, or whiny not so good moments, but he does want us to trust him. God always gives himself to us in the challenging times. He promises to never leaves nor forsake us. I close with the encouraging words from Isaiah 43:1-3:
“1 But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”
1. What stood out to you today?
2. What is one thing you can take away from this chapter?