Showdown in Egypt

It was a cliffhanger yesterday! Last episode: Joseph, the favorite son, has been sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused, and then taken from prison to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. In a stunning turn of events, Pharaoh makes him second in command of Egypt, and he oversees the storage of grain through seven years of bumper-crops to sell during the seven years of famine. And who should he see at the market but his 10 older brothers. He tests them, sets up the new favorite Benjamin to be conveniently pushed aside, and looks for their response. They have changed. So what will he do? Read all about it in today’s look at Genesis 45-47!

Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him. He cried, “Make everyone go out from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers.”

No one is around to be a witness. Everything is going to come out now.

“I’m Joseph!” he cried. The others recoiled. What? Was this a trick? Or a trap?

“I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.”

Joseph’s brothers were not the only ones who had changed. The teenager who described dreams of glory to his brothers and got them in trouble with Dad had grown up. And matured under pressure. Joseph had learned to forgive, and gained perspective on God’s overarching plan to put him in the right place at the right time so he could bring down the family for an extended stay in Egypt.

Can you imagine wondering like Joseph’s brothers how you are going to feed your kids when you suddenly discover a long-lost relative who happens to be extremely rich and powerful and wants to shower you with gifts? And his boss is even in on it!

The only trouble would be how to tell dad. Joseph told his brothers not to quarrel on their way home for a surprise move to Egypt. I can just hear it, “It was your idea, you tell him.” “No, he likes you better.” “Hey, I’ll tell him!” “NOT YOU, BENJAMIN!”

Jacob almost had a heart attack. Joseph? Alive?! But I thought…and then he believed it, and set out with joy. He came to Beersheba, an important place in the travels of both Abraham and Isaac. He sacrificed there. God was at work, and He was in charge. And God visited him in a dream (Genesis 46):

“2 And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.””

And yes, it was a very touching meeting. Then Joseph introduced his family to Pharaoh who gave them land set aside for shepherds. And Jacob amazed him, being so old. So Jacob, a patriarch of Israel, blessed Pharaoh, the head of one of the strongest nations on earth. God works in mysterious ways!

The nation of Israel was 70 persons strong when they moved to Egypt. It’s like the “before” picture for a time lapse that picks up in Exodus. It was such a distance from Jacob running away from Esau alone or Joseph serving for years as a slave. And God wasn’t done yet.

God, thank You for this climax to a story of forgiveness. Joseph is one of my heroes in the Bible. He learned to look past his own hardships to see the big picture of how You were working. And boy, were You working! What do I miss by looking at me? God, thank You for who You are, what You are doing, and for letting us enjoy the journey with You. Please help me to see it better by forgiving and looking beyond right now. Amen.

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