Genesis – First, God
We dream of better days. We wish and hope for all the things of this world we think will make us happy, more comfortable and at peace. Consider God’s dreams for us. God’s dreams are higher, much nobler than our dreams. God’s dreams for us include an expectant life on His terms, walking humbly with our eyes fixed on Him, with hope, faith and trust in Him, accepting and then extending His mercy, love and grace to others. God’s dreams for us are about reconciling to Him and then to each other.
In the story of Joseph, we are observing a family, led by Jacob their father who follows God as did his father before him. God has His hand on this particular family with promises to multiply his people. The story is a continuing saga of unresolved conflict among their relationships. You have a father who highly favors two sons who came later in life by Rachel his favored wife. The less than favored, older sons’ hate for the favored sons leads to evil acts.
Here’s what God does…A world famine leads to miraculous acts of forgiveness and reconciliation among the brothers that can only be a result of God’s determined work in Joseph. God always has a way to bring good to what evil has meant for bad. Always.
Do you dream of a day when you are reconciled to a family member that is “lost” to you at the moment? Do not give up praying for reconciliation. But here is the key, we must allow God to do His best work in us as He works on the relationship we want to restore. God honors a pray like that. He honors our obedience to His will and plan.
Come to God’s Table of Grace.
Genesis 43, The Message
1-2 The famine got worse. When they had eaten all the food they had brought back from Egypt, their father said, “Go back and get some more food.”
3-5 But Judah said, “The man warned us most emphatically, ‘You won’t so much as see my face if you don’t have your brother with you.’ If you’re ready to release our brother to go with us, we’ll go down and get you food. But if you’re not ready, we aren’t going. What would be the use? The man told us, ‘You won’t so much as see my face if you don’t have your brother with you.’”
6 Israel said, “Why are you making my life so difficult! Why did you ever tell the man you had another brother?”
7 They said, “The man pressed us hard, asking pointed questions about our family: ‘Is your father alive? Do you have another brother?’ So we answered his questions. How did we know that he’d say, ‘Bring your brother here’?”
8-10 Judah pushed his father Israel. “Let the boy go; I’ll take charge of him. Let us go and be on our way—if we don’t get going, we’re all going to starve to death—we and you and our children, too! I’ll take full responsibility for his safety; it’s my life on the line for his. If I don’t bring him back safe and sound, I’m the guilty one; I’ll take all the blame. If we had gone ahead in the first place instead of procrastinating like this, we could have been there and back twice over.”
11-14 Their father Israel gave in. “If it has to be, it has to be. But do this: stuff your packs with the finest products from the land you can find and take them to the man as gifts—some balm and honey, some spices and perfumes, some pistachios and almonds. And take plenty of money—pay back double what was returned to your sacks; that might have been a mistake. Take your brother and get going. Go back to the man. And may The Strong God give you grace in that man’s eyes so that he’ll send back your other brother along with Benjamin. For me, nothing’s left; I’ve lost everything.”
15-16 The men took the gifts, double the money, and Benjamin. They lost no time in getting to Egypt and meeting Joseph. When Joseph saw that they had Benjamin with them, he told his house steward, “Take these men into the house and make them at home. Butcher an animal and prepare a meal; these men are going to eat with me at noon.”
17-18 The steward did what Joseph had said and took them inside. But they became anxious when they were brought into Joseph’s home, thinking, “It’s the money; he thinks we ran off with the money on our first trip down here. And now he’s got us where he wants us—he’s going to turn us into slaves and confiscate our donkeys.”
19-22 So they went up to Joseph’s house steward and talked to him in the doorway. They said, “Listen, master. We came down here one other time to buy food. On our way home, the first night out we opened our bags and found our money at the mouth of the bag—the exact amount we’d paid. We’ve brought it all back and have plenty more to buy more food with. We have no idea who put the money in our bags.”
23 The steward said, “Everything’s in order. Don’t worry. Your God and the God of your father must have given you a bonus. I was paid in full.” And with that, he presented Simeon to them.
24-25 He then took them inside Joseph’s house and made them comfortable—gave them water to wash their feet and saw to the feeding of their donkeys. The brothers spread out their gifts as they waited for Joseph to show up at noon—they had been told that they were to have dinner with him.
26 When Joseph got home, they presented him with the gifts they had brought and bowed respectfully before him.
27 Joseph welcomed them and said, “And your old father whom you mentioned to me, how is he? Is he still alive?”
28 They said, “Yes—your servant our father is quite well, very much alive.” And they again bowed respectfully before him.
29 Then Joseph picked out his brother Benjamin, his own mother’s son. He asked, “And is this your youngest brother that you told me about?” Then he said, “God be gracious to you, my son.”
30-31 Deeply moved on seeing his brother and about to burst into tears, Joseph hurried out into another room and had a good cry. Then he washed his face, got a grip on himself, and said, “Let’s eat.”
32-34 Joseph was served at his private table, the brothers off by themselves and the Egyptians off by themselves (Egyptians won’t eat at the same table with Hebrews; it’s repulsive to them). The brothers were seated facing Joseph, arranged in order of their age, from the oldest to the youngest. They looked at one another wide-eyed, wondering what would happen next. When the brothers’ plates were served from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s plate came piled high, far more so than his brothers. And so the brothers feasted with Joseph, drinking freely.
THINK ABOUT IT…
The last thing the brothers expected was to be entertained at a banquet in the home of the second ruler of the land, the man who had dealt so severely with them during their first visit. When Joseph arrived, the brothers bowed and gave him their gifts, and they bowed again when they replied to his question about their father. Now all eleven brothers bowed before him, and now the dreams were fulfilled.
Can you imagine the emotions that overwhelm Joseph as he sees his younger brother after many years? Can you imagine all the memories of what his brothers did to him flashing in his mind? Now recall all that God has been instilling in Joseph’s character in his absence from the family.
The story is not over. Tears will not only be shed by Joseph but by his brothers as they learn more about this brother they sold into slavery years earlier. They will quickly identify Joseph as a man of God who is merciful, forgiving, gracious and kind.
Joseph’s sensitive heart was a miracle of God’s grace. For years dead Egyptian idols and the futile worship given to them had surrounded Joseph, yet he had maintained his faith in God and a heart tender toward his own people. He could have hardened his heart by nursing grudges, but he preferred to forgive and leave the past with God.
THE PROCESS OF TRUE RECONCILIATION
The brothers moved from fear to peace, for punishment because of the money was no longer an issue; from bondage to freedom, for Simeon had been released; and from anxiety to joy, for Benjamin was not in danger. So Joseph’s brothers ate and drank as if there were no famine in the land, and they rejoiced at the generosity of the ruler at the head table.
However, this was a false and transient joy, because the brothers had not yet dealt with their sins. It’s one thing to be relieved and quite something else to be forgiven and reconciled. They needed to ask Joseph’s forgiveness for the way they had abused him, and they owed their father an apology for deceiving him and grieving his heart.
Anything short of humble repentance and confession will not bring about reconciliation with God or with one another. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Prov. 14:12 NIV). Like the wealthy farmer in Christ’s parable, people have false confidence because they think everything is secure for years to come, only to discover that they have left God out of their lives (Luke 12:16-21).
The next act in the drama will bring these matters to a head, and, oddly enough, the activity will center around Benjamin, the young man his brothers thought was above suspicion and beyond danger.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Hallowed be Your Name. You are God and we are not. You are in control of the spiritual famine in our world. You have provided merciful, gracious, loving reconciliation through Jesus Christ. You forgive us as we forgive others. When we are reconciled to you, the way is made easier to reconcile our relationships with others. Thank you, Lord for all you have done, are doing and will do in growing us closer to you and to each other. What a gracious God you are!
In Jesus Name, Amen