VIEWS: 13 PAGES: 6 POSTED ON: 10/17/2012
PRESERVING A REMNANT- GEN. 45:3-15 1/15/2012 Principle: To teach that sometimes it is necessary for God to bring adversity into the lives of His servants in order to bring to pass His greater plans. I. HEARTFELT DISCLOSURE- Gen. 45:3-6 II. HEAVENLY DECREE- Gen. 45:7-11 III. HOPEFUL DECISION- Gen. 45:12-15 Introduction Our lesson today begins with Joseph revealing his true identity to his brothers, and for them it was an awesome moment of truth. As I begin my introduction I am reminded of the fact that in my life, and in yours, there may be times when we are confronted with our own “I am Joseph” moments, those rare moments in life when we may be confronted with a person who may have at one time worked ill against us, either by word or by deed, and now we find ourselves in a position where the tables have turned around and we now are in a position to bring retribution upon them. Or perhaps, instead of being the offended, we may ourselves have been the offender, and now we have to face the awful reality that our wrongs have now been brought into the light when we come face to face with the one we may have offended. There are no words that can adequately describe these moments, but the initial reaction that most of us would probably experience would be one of shock. Joseph’s amazing revelations would indeed shock his brothers, and in the next few verses we will see how Joseph responded to them. Joseph had every reason to want to get even with his brothers now that he was in a position to do so. They had cruelly sold him into slavery, and walked away from him without giving a thought to the pain and suffering that he would endure, nor to the agony and grief that they would bring upon their father Jacob. However, God’s hand was upon Joseph. Through many painful experiences, Joseph had been exalted from the pit to the palace, and was now second in command to Pharaoh. The famine had extended to Canaan, and all in the region were now coming to him to purchase food, including his brothers who now 20 years later did not recognize him, because he had adopted the dress, mannerisms and speech of the Egyptians. God had been good to Joseph and over the years he had learned to see the hand of God in all that had happened to him so he was no longer bitter against his brothers, but during their previous visit Joseph had closely observed their speech and their actions, longing to see signs of repentance and remorse among them. On their first visit, Benjamin was not among them, and Joseph expressly told them that they could not appear before him again unless their younger brother was with them. Jacob reluctantly agreed to release Benjamin to them on the next trip, but only after much entreaty and a pledge for his safety from his brothers. The next visit with Joseph was a pleasant one, and he greeted them warmly and gave special attention to Benjamin. However as a final test, when his brothers left Egypt for the second time, Joseph had his silver cup planted in Benjamin’s sack of grain (Gen. 44:1-5), the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack, Benjamin was brought back to Egypt and accused of being a thief. On hearing Judah’s impassioned plea for his release, and his own heartfelt appeal to take the punishment for his brother, Joseph could take no more and decided that now it was finally time for him to reveal his true identity to his brothers. The moment of truth had come! I. HEARTFELT DISCLOSURE-Gen. 45:3-6 GEN. 45:3 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence. Joseph had dismissed his servants while he revealed himself to his brothers and during this time he completely lost his composure as a torrent of welled up emotions rose to the surface. When he came to himself he said “I am Joseph” Pharaoh had given him the name of Zaphnathpaaneah, which was the name by which he was known in Egypt, but Joseph was of course his real name his Hebrew name, the name by which only his brothers knew him. “doth my father yet live?” Joseph inquires about his father, perhaps to lessen the initial shock of the previous revelation and to show his deep affection and concern for his father. “And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence” The events of the morning along with Joseph’s startling revelation left his brothers too stunned to speak, they had literally been shocked into silence. There was also an immediate reality check, they were now acutely aware that Joseph was now in a position to exact complete retribution for their actions against him. GEN. 45:4 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. At this point Joseph summons them to “Come near to me, I pray you” It is probable that Joseph was at a little distance from them since the protocol of his office would have required some distance, it is also quite likely that not only were they speechless, but they were probably so terrified that they could not move. Some contemporary commentators believe that Joseph may summoned them to come closer in order that he could reveal to his brothers the one thing that would have identified him as a Jewish male, even though he was wearing Egyptian clothing, and that would of course be the sign of his circumcision, although that is not stated in the text. Then as if to leave them in no doubt as to his true identity he again says, “I am Joseph” then to bring the point completely home he adds “your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt”. The facts concerning Joseph’s disappearance from Canaan, was a secret that was known only among his brothers, and of course to Joseph himself. No-one else, not even Pharaoh knew the full story concerning Joseph’s journey from Canaan to Egypt. GEN. 45:5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. Joseph shows grace and love to his brothers by trying to set their minds to rest concerning any fears they may have entertained of his getting even with them, by telling them to not be grieved nor angry with themselves for their actions towards him- even for selling him into slavery!!, for Joseph realized that everything that had taken place in his life up to that point had been the result of God’s providence. He realized that God was working a greater good behind the scenes “For God did send me before you to preserve life”. Joseph was now uniquely placed to be an agent of blessing, hope and salvation to his family. God has a plan for Israel and God was putting all the pieces place in order that His plan may come into fruition. Teaching us, that God works even through the bad stuff!- God does not bless sin, and God does not condone evil, but in the fullness of His plan God is able to bring good even from the most distressing and discouraging situations. God is completely sovereign, nothing takes him by surprise and God is able to work all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purposes (Rom 8:28). All things are not good, but God can cause them to work together for our good and for His ultimate glory. For the believer…nothing “just happens”- everything that happens to us in this life, both good and bad has already been sifted and filtered through the loving hands of our all- knowing and ever- loving Father. Sometimes our circumstances may not change, but God through those circumstances is working on changing us. Both Joseph, and his brothers had been changed by the circumstances that occurred to them, and all of it was according to God’s plan. GEN. 45:6 For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. The famine was now in its second year, there were still five years left to go. Joseph had predicted that the famine would be very severe, Canaan and all the surrounding areas would be completely devastated. God’s promises to Abraham and his seed would not be fulfilled if Jacob remained in Canaan, since most probably they would have starved to death. Survival for the family meant leaving Canaan……..and Joseph had been divinely sent to prepare the way. II. HEAVENLY DECREE- Gen. 45:7-11 GEN. 45:7 And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. God sent me before you Joseph continued to reassure his brothers, while they may still have been struggling with the guilt, fear and remorse concerning their previous actions, Joseph again points them towards the providential hand of God in everything that had taken place. Where now he could be the agent for his family’s deliverance. GEN. 45:8 So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. It was not you that sent me hither, but God. Joseph saw the hand of God working through the evil that resulted in his being in slavery, his being placed in prison under false accusation, and his ability to interpret dreams which was the very thing that brought him to the attention of Pharaoh. These events led to his ascending to the highest position of authority, placing him (a foreign slave!!) to a position where he was a father to Pharaoh a teacher and counselor to Pharaoh, guiding him in matters of state and giving him advice and counsel and acting under his authority ruling the affairs of the land. GEN.45:9 Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say to him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not: Time being of the utmost essence he commissions his brothers to “Haste ye” and return to their father without delay. Jacob would no doubt be revived just by hearing that his son Joseph was still alive, but hearing that God had made him lord of all Egypt would bring great pride and joy to his heart, along with the reunion that would now be imminent. GEN. 45:10 And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children’s children, and thy flocks and thy herds, and all that thou hast: Joseph’s invitation was to all of his family, he would settle them in the land of Goshen which was an area that was thinly populated by the Egyptians and closer to Canaan. It was an area that was well watered and suitable for cattle. Joseph had achieved such an esteemed position in the eyes of Pharaoh that it is quite possible that this area may have been given to Joseph to use at his own personal disposal. Here Joseph’s people would be able to live in relative isolation, and would have been able to continue their way of life without being influenced by Egyptian vices or subject to their possible hostility. GEN. 45:11 And there will I nourish thee; for yet there are five years of famine; lest thou and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty. Joseph wanted his family to relocate to Goshen as soon as possible, in all probability the prospects of their survival would be all but obliterated in Canaan. The famine would be very severe, the land would not support any crops, nothing could be grown, and nothing would survive, including their family. Jacob would lovingly provide for and support his family. III. HOPEFUL DECISION- Gen. 45:12-15 GEN. 45:12 And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you. Still stunned by the amazing revelations of the last few moments, Joseph encourages his brothers to take note that it was truly he that was speaking to them, since he spoke with them now in their Hebrew tongue and not through an interpreter. GEN. 45.13 And ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that ye have seen; and ye shall haste and bring down my father hither. Joseph urges them to return to their father immediately, telling him not only the good news that he was still alive, but that he now occupied a position of high office in the Egypt, a position that would normally be reserved only for members of Pharaoh’s immediate family. Joseph stressed that the entire family should move to Egypt without delay. GEN. 45:14 And he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck. GEN. 45:15 Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him. A joyous reunion immediately follows, forgiveness, healing, reconciliation and restoration takes place among the family immediately. CONCLUSION Many of us can identify with Joseph in terms of experiencing hurt, pain, and sometimes betrayal in our own family relationships. My own experience is that forgiveness is a choice, and we have to choose to forgive. Forgiveness does not remove the impact of the circumstances, it does not deny the fact that offenses may have been committed, it does not always mean that an immediate reconciliation and restoration is always possible, but what it does mean is that I don’t have to continue to carry the hurt and the pain in my heart. Forgiveness is the obligation of those who have been forgiven, we who have been forgiven by God have no choice but to forgive those who have offended us as well, but I’ll be the first to admit that it takes patience and time for God to work His perfect work in our hearts, so sometimes it’s a lot easier said than done. Joseph had a choice, and most of us would not have blamed him for giving his brothers a taste of what they had put him through, but the key to Joseph’s success lay in the fact that through it all, Joseph had learned to appreciate the sovereign hand of God in his circumstances and he later related in Gen. 50: 20, But as for you, ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good. What I’m learning most is that that God is a good God and He is not the author of confusion or of evil. It is the enemy who brings dissention and distrust into our families, but those families who choose to forgive, work together on their relationships and pray together will ultimately be victorious and stay together. God can bring good out of any situation. God’s plan for Joseph included hardship, betrayal, imprisonment, servitude and suffering but ultimately God’s will was done and many were blessed as a result of it. May the Lord help us to view each challenging situation in the light of this truth. God Bless You.
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