Joseph Reveals His Identity And God’s Plan!
Last chapter, we saw Judah pleading before Joseph for mercy. Confessing his guilt before God for his actions. Asking to be the one upon which all payment for offenses against the Master, Joseph, be extracted. Offering himself up as a substitute for his brother, Benjamin, so that his father, Jacob, would not be grieved to the point of death.
Because all we have studied since Chapter 40 concerning Joseph is a foreshadowing of the Messiah, we are approaching that pivotal moment in Scripture that will tell us just how the Lord God of the Universe hears and reacts to our pleas for mercy. And, it is shown to us in the form of how Joseph reacts to the pleas of his elder brother, Judah.
Joseph Reveals His Identity
Joseph could stand it no longer. There were many people in the room, and he said to his attendants, “Out, all of you!” So he was alone with his brothers when he told them who he was. Then he broke down and wept. He wept so loudly the Egyptians could hear him, and word of it quickly carried to Pharaoh’s palace.
“I am Joseph!” he said to his brothers. “Is my father still alive?” But his brothers were speechless! They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them. “Please, come closer,” he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt.
Genesis 45:1-4 (NLT)
Chapter 45 opens by telling us that Joseph could simply no longer contain himself. So he dismissed everyone that was around him, that he might be alone with his 11 brothers.
And, then, he broke down and wept. With weeping so violent, with his body heaving with the intensity and a range of emotions now pouring out of him like a dam bursting, his crying out could be clearly heard outside of his home.
What he felt we can probably all, to some degree, identify with.
- These were tears of deep pain finally released;
- Of relief from an ordeal that had come to a poignant conclusion after so many years;
- Of gratitude for a reuniting with his family;
- Of sadness seeing his brothers eaten up with guilt, but at the same time, joy, having witnessed them embrace repentance; and,
- Of course, this gave Joseph the opportunity to forgive.
But, Joseph also wept for he knew the thing he longed for the most was at hand; he would be soon be back in the presence of his beloved father.
Oh, what similar but greater spectrum of emotions that Jesus must have felt as He hung there on that cross, his life draining away. As He suddenly felt the full burden of the immeasurable, crushing weight placed upon Him for the sins of every human that had ever, or would ever, live.
As He absorbed the Divine wrath of His Father, in righteous judgment, for the sins He bore, none of which were His. And, how long He remained silent; choosing to endure for my sake and your sake, until He sensed the conclusion was but moments away.
Then, in agony and in victory He could no longer contain Himself, and cried out in a voice so loud and powerful and filled with such pain: “Eloi, Eloi, L’mah sh’vaktani?” …God, God, why have you separated yourself from me?
Those people gathered around Him hid their faces in awe and fear, and the 6” thick veil in the Temple split from top to bottom.
But, Yeshua knew, just as Joseph knew, that soon he would be back in the presence of his father. His mission was accomplished. God’s will was done. What his brothers had done to Him for evil, the Father has used for good. Joseph saved Israel’s physical life: Jesus saved Israel’s eternal life, Israel’s, and all the families of the earth who would be joined to Israel’s covenants.
But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.
Genesis 45:5-8 (NLT)
Since Joseph could see his brothers’ mixed responses of fear and bewilderment, he encouraged them with words that came from a loving and forgiving heart. Yes, they had done wrong and were guilty; yet he told them not to dwell on their sins but on what God had done for all of them.
God overruled the brothers’ hateful attitude and cruel actions and worked it all out for good. (See Joseph’s words in 50:20, which is the Old Testament version of Romans 8:28.) His brothers were responsible for Joseph’s sufferings, but God used them to accomplish His divine purposes.
Joseph could have easily been bitter, but he saw God’s hand in all of this.
Likewise, when we are able to see God’s purposes for our lives, we will not become bitter against those whom do us wrong?
People often use this verse to say that all the bad things we experience in our lives are planned by God to make us better.
After all, didn’t God have Joseph thrown into a pit by his brothers, sold into slavery, and then thrown in prison in order to bring him into his destiny?
The answer is NO! God didn’t will Joseph’s slavery and prison sentence, but He used them. Joseph’s brothers were evil men who would have killed Joseph without the Lord’s intervention. Slavery was better than the death Joseph’s brothers planned for him. And slavery would bring Joseph to Egypt and eventually put him in position to become the ruler of Egypt.
The Lord didn’t make all of these bad things happen to Joseph. But the Lord used the inhumane practice of slavery to deliver Joseph from his brothers. Yet the Lord caused Joseph to prosper as a slave (Genesis 39:2-6). Then the Lord used prison to deliver Joseph from the wrath of Potiphar and the lust of Potiphar’s wife. Once again, Joseph prospered as a prisoner.
These things were not caused by God but, rather, used by God to bring about His plans for Joseph’s life.
The story of Joseph and his brothers encourages us to recognize the sovereignty of God in the affairs of life and to trust His promises no matter how dark the day may be. “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” (Prov. 19:21). God sent Joseph to Egypt so that Jacob’s family could be preserved and the nation of Israel be born and ultimately give the Word of God and the Savior to the world. Without realizing it, Joseph’s brothers were helping the Lord fulfill His covenant with Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3).
“Now hurry back to my father and tell him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me master over all the land of Egypt. So come down to me immediately! You can live in the region of Goshen, where you can be near me with all your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and everything you own. I will take care of you there, for there are still five years of famine ahead of us. Otherwise you, your household, and all your animals will starve.’”
Then Joseph added, “Look! You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that I really am Joseph! Go tell my father of my honored position here in Egypt. Describe for him everything you have seen, and then bring my father here quickly.”
Genesis 45:9-13 (NLT)
Since Joseph was “lord of all” (see also Acts 10:36), why should his family live in destitution in Canaan?
Five more years of famine were ahead of them, and it would be foolish to make repeated trips to Egypt to obtain food. Joseph instructed his brothers to hurry home, give the good news to his father that he was alive, pack whatever belongings they needed, and come to Egypt to live permanently. He promised to protect them and provide for them; the land of Goshen was a fertile area of Egypt where Jacob’s family and their descendants could live close to one another without fear.
The news was too good to be true, and perhaps some of the brothers exhibited skepticism and hesitation (Luke 24:41).
Was this offer just another clever trap, like the hidden grain money and the “stolen” cup?
But Joseph was speaking to them in their own Hebrew tongue and not through an interpreter (Gen. 45:12; see 42:23); and though they hadn’t seen him for twenty-two years, surely they could recognize their own brother’s voice and manner of speech. At least Benjamin would recognize his own full brother!
Weeping with joy, he embraced Benjamin, and Benjamin did the same. Then Joseph kissed each of his brothers and wept over them, and after that they began talking freely with him.
Genesis 45:14-15 (NLT)
It wasn’t a time for explanations and excuses but for honest expressions of love and forgiveness. Joseph embraced his brothers and kissed them, especially Benjamin, and they all wept together. Because hidden sin had been exposed and dealt with, and forgiveness had been granted, mercy and truth met together, and righteousness and truth kissed each other (Ps. 85:10).
But keep in mind that this reconciliation was possible only because Joseph had suffered and triumphed, and it’s a beautiful picture of what the Lord Jesus Christ did for sinners in His death on the cross and His resurrection. Like Jesus, Joseph went from suffering to glory, from the prison to the throne, and was able to share his wealth and glory with others.
In his defence before the Jewish council, Stephen took pains to point out that Joseph revealed himself to his brothers “the second time” (Acts 7:13). This too is a picture of Christ’s experience with His own people Israel: They rejected Him when He came the first time (John 1:11; 5:43), but they will recognize Him and receive Him when He comes the second time, and they will weep and repent (Zech. 12:10-13:1).
“Afterward his brothers talked with him” (Gen. 45:15) is a simple sentence that speaks volumes in what it doesn’t report. When Joseph was a teenager at home, his brothers so hated him that they couldn’t even speak to him (37:4), but now that they’ve been reconciled and forgiven, communication is possible.
We have every reason to believe that they apologized for the way they treated him, and certainly they updated Joseph on the family news, especially news about their father. The reconciliation of estranged brothers and sisters ought to lead to restored fellowship and joyful communion (2 Cor. 2:1-11). Joseph didn’t put his brothers on probation; he freely forgave them and welcomed them into his heart and his home.
You can’t help but contrast the way Joseph dealt with his brothers’ sins and the way King David dealt with the sins of his sons (2 Sam. 13-19). Joseph was loving but firm; he knew that his brothers must be brought to the place of repentance and confession before they could be forgiven and trusted with responsibility. David, however, forgave his sons without asking for evidence of real repentance, and his abnormal affection for Absalom almost cost him the devotion of his people.
Like Amnon and Absalom, David had been guilty of sexual sin, and this may have affected his ability to deal with their crimes. Joseph was a man of purity and integrity, and his approach to dealing with his brothers’ sins was much more mature and Godlike. It isn’t necessary for us to wallow in the mud in order to sympathize with the needs of sinners or help them clean up their lives. Jesus was the friend of sinners (Matt. 11:19; Luke 7:34) and yet was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Heb. 7:26).
To Be Continued…