Week 25: Genesis 42
God gave Egypt seven years with plenty of food, just as Pharaoh’s dream foretold. For seven years of plenty, Joseph has put away one fifth of the surplus until there was more grain than could be counted. Now the second seven years are in full swing with famine. Hunger has hit surrounding countries including Canaan where Joseph’s brothers and father lived. When Joseph’s father heard that people could buy food in Egypt, he sent his ten older sons to buy grain. God’s sovereign plan is about to be played out in a big way.
They will find the bread they need for life from the very brother they had assigned to death.
See Christ here: People are born with hunger and without satisfying it they will die. When Christ saw the hungry he fed them, physically. When they came back for a free meal ticket the next day. He didn’t give them bread as he had before. He took them deeper and gave them himself.
“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35, ESV)
In the heart of every person there is a life quest that goes much deeper than physical need. Indeed, God has put eternity into the hearts of men. Our souls have a God-given hunger for spiritual life. There is a lesson behind bread and hunger. They teach us that we are not self-sufficient. We need someone else to give us something in order to live.
Christ is the someone who gives us something (Himself) so that we may have eternal life.
When they arrive they bow down before him. This is exactly what Joseph had dreamed and shared with his brothers more than twenty years before.
The dream his brothers hated him for has now become, not only a reality, but also a gracious opportunity to help them!
See Christ here: When Christ came to the Jews, he told them that his destiny would be over them. This was the reason for their hatred of him and that hatred drove them to rid the earth of Him. But in the end, Christ's very death would be the means by which many of his enemies would be saved.
How many of us lived as enemies of Christ? We didn’t want to bow the knee of our own self-will before Him. We wanted to be free from righteousness. We wanted to do what we wanted to do, not realizing it would lead to our own slavery. C.S. Lewis remarked,
“The last experience of sinner is the horrible enslavement of the freedom he desired.”
We see that Joseph remembers the dreams and he is harsh with them: “You are spies!” He purposefully troubles their souls so that they might see that God is dealing with their guilt and awaken their consciences to what they have done. He would that they would be done with their lives of sin and brought so low that they might have a true change of heart and be lifted to life.
In the end, like some of us, they are brought to the feet of the one they crucified.
Miraculously and mercifully, they will receive grace, forgiveness, new hearts and the Bread of life!
Read Genesis 42:1-20
They exclaimed to Joseph, “We are honest men…” They didn’t know it but they were declaring their goodness to the same man they nearly murdered over twenty years ago but at the last minute sold into slavery. That is called attempted murder and human trafficking. Both are grievous sins.
They heralded their virtue to a man whose father they had misrepresented as being killed by a wild beast. Misrepresentis a nice lawyer word. It means to lie and it is wrong.
One of the brothers, Judah, traded property for sex in Genesis 38. That’s called soliciting a prostitute. It is also called fornication like every other sexual sin. Judah is standing there straight-faced in declaring his righteousness before a man who went to prison for many years because he didn’t commit fornication.
“We are honest men.” Really?
They do not recognize that Joseph knows who they are and what they have done.
“The proof of a sinner is that he doesn’t know his own sin.” St. Augustine
See Christ here: We may think we have gotten away with sin because it hasn’t been discovered, but it has already been laid bare before the very person we have sinned against--Christ himself!
When Nathan the prophet exposed David’s secret adultery and the murder/cover-up that followed, David broke down, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Five minutes before that, David was self-deceived and thinking himself just and good. He was about to execute justice on a wicked man that Nathan had described to him.
When David said, "the man who has done this shall surely die." Nathan said, "You are that man."
In the light of God’s bright light of truth, every man will see him self as he truly is: a sinner in need of a Savior. Lord, grant us this vision on this side of the judgment seat.
Read Genesis 42:20-28
“Then they said to one another, “We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us.”” (Genesis 42:21, NKJV)
Twenty years before, these men sat down to eat when they threw their brother Joseph in the pit to die. A person, who can eat, without the slightest qualm, after throwing his own brother into a pit to die, is a hard-hearted soul indeed.
It has been said,
“Daring sinners are secure ones.”
And these men had felt secure in their sin: “No one will ever find out.”
How the sinner justifies himself: “Other people have done worse things.”
Sinners think time will make the sin go away. But time doesn’t erase it. Twenty years later, God is bringing it all up as though it happened yesterday!
God has awakened their consciences and is troubling them with sabotage at every turn. When they find the money that Joseph has put back into their sack, they panic. “What is this that God has done to us?”
They feel as though God is hunting them. And He is! But he is hunting them for mercy. Conviction comes before conversion.
See Christ here: Many fell before Christ in sin’s discovery. They felt that God had found them out and they genuinely feared. But like the woman caught in adultery they will meet with unexpected mercy. “When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”” (John 8:10–11, NKJV)
These very wrong men will meet with very real grace.
Read Luke 24:13-32
Read Luke 24:13-32
“So Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him.” (Genesis 42:8)
There are several reasons why his brothers did not recognize Joseph: It had been at least twenty-seven years sent they had seen him. Years change us all, and some more dramatically than others. Joseph was wearing the costume of Egyptian royalty. No doubt, he wore face and eye cosmetics that were common to the higher class and especially ranked men. Add to that, Joseph was using an interpreter with his brothers and, as subjects; they were to avoid eye contact at all cost.
They didn’t have a clue who they were with but soon their eyes will be opened to a shattering truth.
See Christ here: Two disciples are walking together on the Road to Emmaus. Luke tells us that they are talking about everything that had recently happened: the shocking arrest, a crooked trial, and the execution of Jesus. The fact that they reasoned, points us to the truth that they were confused and trying to puzzle out what had happened. It is at this time that Jesus, himself, joins them, but their eyes are restrained from recognizing him.
This is how God deals with us: He chooses when to reveal himself to us, and when he does, everything makes perfect sense and comes together perfectly.
Christ is hidden throughout scripture but wonderfully revealed by His Holy Spirit in His time.
Joseph, the one who was figuratively dead to them, would be revealed alive to them. This resurrection will change everything for these men.
“Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25–27, NLT)