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Joseph, almost like the 'prodigal' is restored to the father; and restoration brings joy.


Well we saw last week that Joseph has been revealed to his bro hers.  The one that they had despised has indeed become one to whom they must bow down.  Just as all those ages ago, Little Joseph had dreamt in his dream, of his brothers stooks bowing down to his, and of the Sun, moon, and eleven stars bowing down to him.  (Gen 37:5-11)  It has now come to pass.

But what of the Father back in Canaan, what of Jacob who for years had thought that a wild animal had attacked and killed his son, did he have any inkling that perhaps his son was alive?  And where does this leave the promises of God, to Abraham?  After all, Egypt is not the land God had promised, how could this be a place of protection and blessing?  There is yet coming a famine upon all the land, Drought conditions that will be both sever and prolonged. || Will God’s people be left destitute? || Will their carcases fall at the dried up water holes like so many drought stricken animals? OR  is there a way that God will provide for his people in a way that they had not thought, and still maintain His promise to them?

Well we see that all along, God was getting His person to the right place to effect a great salvation.  The whole survival of the O.T Church is seen in God providing a kind of ‘Saviour’ in the form of a despised Joseph who would go ahead of God’s people and prepare a way for them.  It’s a theme repeated over and over in the Bible; A despised Noah, a despised Moses, a despised Jephan, a despised David, Elijah, Jeremiah, and finally a despised Jesus!  ||  So we ought not think that this is unusual.  ||  God often delivers by the least thought of.  It’s not a coincidence that Joseph’s brothers despise him, and are moved to sell Joseph to the passing Camel traders who were on their way to Egypt, Not a coincidence that Joseph has ended up in Egypt, || been falsely accused, and put in prison, been discovered, been made ruler, second only to Pharaoh, and put in charge of equivalent of a ‘world superpower’ at the time. 

And nor is it a coincidence that his father Jacob hears that there is Grain in Egypt.  God has had His hand on all these things, all the way along. God has made all this possible in His mercy and providence to care for His gathered people. The O.T Church.

Before we move on to what happens when the brothers return home to Jacob – we ought notice the incredible irony and strange turn of events that the brothers experience here.  How could anything have prepared them for the shocking truth that the one that they had silenced, || and for all intents and purposes ‘murdered’, is very much alive, and now in a position of incredible authority?

On the one hand it reminds us of that passage in the book of numbers: “… you may be sure that your sin will find you out.”  (Numbers 32:23)  And Galatians 6:7  Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.  But on the other, how gracious and merciful is Joseph to not exact revenge now when it could so easily fall within his power to do so.  Listen to the way that he treats them instead.  Ch45  Verse 3ff  Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph! Is my father still living?" But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.  4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Come close to me." When they had done so, he said, "I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 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.6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.8 "So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.

I Wonder; which would have been more shocking for the brothers, finding out who the strange ruler was, or finding out that he did not intend to repay evil for evil?  I think the same type of thing is what surprises people when they first come to saving faith in Jesus;  On the one hand that he holds incredible power – on the other that he is merciful and kind.  Imagine the brothers trudging all the way back to their father in Canaan with this ‘knowledge’ ‘raw’ under their fingernails.  No wonder Joseph tells them not to quarrel on the way (45:24)  You can just feel the tension – He might have forgiven them, but can they forgive themselves?  Can they accept it? 

In the big picture, the O.T Church is going to survive because Joseph has been ‘found’.  But as so often is the case it’s in the small picture that faithfulness is required.  How will these brothers treat each other, now that all is uncovered?

And a deeper question is How do they go back and explain this news to their father?  Indeed even if they can somehow explain what they did, or think up reasons for why they might have acted as they did – how in the world will their ageing father believe them?  Some people suppose that this is the time that the brothers come clean with their father Jacob, that here they are forced to admit the terrible betrayal and lie that they have been involved, in for all these years….But I don’t think that the passage gives us much indication to say that they did do that at this time.  Do they now confess all that they have done?  || No || rather they suppress that information.  They don’t divulge it.  They ‘skirt’ around it, they give out some information, but they also leave much of it hidden.  Have they learned? OR Are they are still trying to deceive the father.  And imagine the fear that they must be subject to… for weeks, and months, and indeed years after this worried that their terrible secret will escape. || Sin has a sting in the tail, and unless we are prepared to confess our sin, that tail will strike again and again and again.

And is this not something that afflicts each one of us in our battle against sin?  Why do we try to make excuses for sin, instead of bringing it to our Heavenly Father to have it dealt with, once and for all? ||  The Devil sells us the lie that if we hide it away, if we skirt around it, if we cover it over, that it will not trouble us, but, in reality we then allow it to sting us again and again and again.

As a young teenager, I can remember being stung by a scorpion, somehow it had gotten into the house, and climbed into the bed between the sheets and during the night, and in the middle of the night,  it stung my foot, with what I think was the most painful sting I’ve ever had – (I’ve been stung by wasps and bee’s and bull ants and blue bottles, since), but somehow when your stung when your asleep it seems to be so much more painful!  Well leaving sin, skirting around sin, is like leaving a Scorpion in your bed.  Shoeing it to one side will not do, it has to be REMOVED!  It has to be dealt with.  The excuses, the covering up, the attempts to rationalise why we did it.  Is it not better to come before our gracious father and find the soothing ointment of his forgiveness? And have done with sin once and for all? 

Some might say; but wasn’t it better that the brothers didn’t divulge to their aged parent what they had done, since that would have disturbed him.  Weren’t they being sort of kind in sparing him that worry, shock, and disturbance?  No doubt it would have disturbed him, but at least reconciliation and peace may have been able to follow, since Joseph is the main one who has been grieved, and he is willing to forgive them.  Some matters may not need all to be explained, but this matter involved the deception regarding the life of their fathers son.  Surely that needed to be confessed.  The secret things are the things that cause us pain.  The hidden things are the things that trip up our feet.  The things we twist and suppress are the things that when bumped, unravel, and fly into our faces.  We need to come clean with them before God, if true reconciliation will begin. 

Joseph sends them back to his Father, and their father, with the message;  God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don't delay. And they do go back to the Father with this message.  And even though verse 27 says that they told their father ‘everything’ it is in the context of the passage, that they told him everything that Joseph had said to them.  They begin with the bare essentials. "Joseph is still alive! ……..In fact, ……he is ruler of all Egypt." 

Now we’ve got to put ourselves in Jacob’s shoes for a moment – the last he’d seen of Joseph was the time he sent him dressed in his marvellous coat into a dangerous area, and then some time later he was given that blood stained and torn remnant of that coat.  His Son had died.  He had lived through all that process of grieving, and separation, and coming to terms with the numbness, the loss, the frustration, the despair, the loneliness, the grief, and here were his other sons now telling him that Joseph who had died was now alive! 

The bible says Jacob was “stunned”; he did not believe them.27 But when they told him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent to carry him back, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28 And Israel (or as he was known; Jacob) said, "I'm convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die."  Sometimes good news can be as shocking as bad news. But eventually Jacob does believe them and sets his mind to see his son before he himself dies. 

See the love of the father for the son – that though death had tried its hardest, love was still willing to believe that there could be life after death.

In Ch46 The decision to travel to Egypt would not have been taken lightly by Jacob, because from all that he’d had known, Canaan was the place that God would provide for their home. But never-the-less he must trust God and submit to His will.  At Bersheba he offers sacrifices to the Lord and the Lord speaks to Jacob in vision at night: and said, "Jacob! Jacob!" "Here I am," he replied. 3 "I am God, the God of your father," he said. "Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there.4 I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph's own hand will close your eyes."

God assures the now ageing Jacob that He will be with him, and that this provision for His people will not stop God’s promises from being fulfilled.  God is bigger than holy places, bigger than the traditions of man, bigger than conventional wisdom.  We can trust God that even when the direction of our lives takes a dramatic turn, and it seems that we are called to go, where we have never been before, God will not desert, or leave us, to find our own way.

Notice too the Father’s joy and fulfilment on being reunited with this son who once was dead.  46:29 Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time.30 Israel said to Joseph, "Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.  Doesn’t it remind us of the Prodigal Son and the Father that Jesus speaks of in Luke 15? “..for this my son was dead and is now alive; he was lost and is found”

Both were as good as dead, both had returned to their father by a very long road, both father’s display patent and manifest compassion to a son who was for all intents and purposes as good as dead.  Think of how our Heavenly Father comes to us, we had all our lives been separated from Him, who had always loved us.  When we come home to him, it matters little what others may think of us, matters little what our circumstances may be, weather a pauper like the prodigal or a Prince like Joseph.  The Fathers love come to us, on the road, he embraces us, welcoming us home. 

Notice finally the confident words of the Father now that he has received back his son from the dead.46:30  Israel said to Joseph, "Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive. 

In some ways it’s a strange thing to say. – since if he hasn’t seen him for so long, wouldn’t he want to have as many years with him as possible, rather than saying he is now ready to die?  I think he says this because of two reasons.  He knows now that God has rescued his son, nothing else really matters, he has come to the end of his life, and he has contentment that God will continue to bless and minister to him even on the other side of the grave.  The other reason I think he says this is because he himself now trusts that God can overcome death – it’s almost that seeing Joseph standing there before him a living testimony to God’s power over death, that he now no longer needs to fear it.  Joseph’s being raised from the dead points to Jesus being raised form the dead – and if Jacob can have confidence to face death thought the life of Joseph, how much more can we have confidence to face death through the life of Christ – whose resurrection wasn’t just about him being in a different place where we couldn’t see him, but he actually died – and he actually rose again.  Seeing that The Saviour is alive, a saviour who falls on our neck and embraces us, who forgives all of our sins, and deals with all of our failings, and provides a home for us should fill us with wonder and confidence in the face of death.     LGS


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