Joseph had his hopes raised and then seemingly destroyed many times. He still knew that God was working. He gets married to the daughter of the Pharaoh and has two sons Manasseh-God causes to forget (the bad) and Ephraim means fruitfulness. In essence, forgetfulness of the bad and fruitfulness.
Regional abundance and regional famine-7 years of plenty-Every year there is more and more. They have so much grain and food they quit counting. 7 years of famine-Joseph is about 40 yrs. old. Every year the famine gets worse and worse. Joseph opens up the storehouses. Now he is praised by the people as well.
1. A reversal of fortune! First, the brothers have power over Joseph and now Joseph has power over them. In Chapter 42:1 the famine has gotten so bad that Jacob tells his sons to go toEgypt (all the sheep and cattle are dead). The question should be asked: Has Jacob lost his faith in God? He knows nothing of God’s purpose in the famine. We have not heard about Jacob since chapter 37:34-35 where he is weeping over the loss of Joseph. It is now 20 yrs. later.
God first took his son and now he hears that He has given the Egyptians corn and there is nothing for them. What kind of faith would you have if you were taught that God blesses His own (and Jacob had success) and now this? Remember that Abraham and Issac also faced famine in Canaan. “Famine” is mentioned 25 x in Genesis. Jacob still has money to buy food. Does this mean that
Jacob didn’t trust God? No, he just uses common sense. Other than the manna in the wilderness, normally God uses human means (others) to fulfill our basic needs. Trusting God doesn’t mean idleness. Jacob said “We are starving so get up and get over to Egypt.” Do you realize the humility it takes to basically ask your enemy for help? Benjamin is now mentioned-youngest son of Rachael who died in childbirth. Jacob will not let him go to Egypt. Why? He believes he is the only son of Rachael left and the last time he sent his son out, he didn’t return.
2. A reversal of honor! v. 6, 9 The brothers bow down to Joseph (remember the dream over 20 years ago). Joseph appears like an Egyptian so they would not recognize him (shaved head). The test of Joseph-acting harshly, asking questions he already knew the answers to, accusing them of spying…etc. The brothers are still not completely honest. V. 10 are true but v. 11 are not. They say they are “honest men” but v. 13 reveal the truth. “One is no more.” – implying there was a misfortunate accident.Adam and Eve-God say, “Where are you?” God knew where Adam was but still asked him to see his response. Notice that a reversal of honor doesn’t mean personal vengeance. Joseph could have exacted vengeance by 1) putting them all in jail 2) revealing himself to them. So why does Joseph do this to them?
1) To find out and see his father and his brother
2) To show his brothers God’s faithfulness. (They were not godly).
3) A reversal of punishment! v. 21 “we are being punished because of our brother.”
A. Guilt- There is something here we need to understand. After over 20 years, their sin and guilt still affects them. V. 22 – Rueben says: “I told you so” Although sin is against God, it is directly related to others. “What is this that God (not Joseph) had done to us?” v. 23 – Joseph wept.
B. Hostage-Simeon is held until they return with Benjamin. God reverses the past-Joseph was thrown into a cistern and prison and now Simeon gets the same treatment. He chose Simeon (next oldest after Rueben who wasn’t really behind Joseph’s destruction) probably because he remembered him to have been his most bitter enemy and probably the least humbled.
C. The plan to guarantee their return – Joseph had gold put in their bags so they would have to return with Benjamin and the gold. They thought for sure Simeon would be killed.
D. Return to Canaan–Jacob is now in complete despair. Jacob says this is the second time I sent you out and you returned without your brother-now you want Benjamin. The truth is that Simeon was in the safest place of all (under the care of Joseph). God’s purpose for Joseph and us will be unfolded in stages over the course of our life.
1. Trusting God means you know it is God who balances the injustices of your life.
2. Trusting God means you will be faithful to God through abundance and through famine.
3. Trusting God means that we show mercy to those who have treated us unjustly. Joseph opened the storehouse of food to all nations.
4. Trusting God means we don’t have all the answers.