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Feb 25 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

February 23, 2014 – Genesis 45

Revelation and Reconciliation

Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried, “Have everyone go out from me.” So there was no man with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. He wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard of it. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. Genesis 45:1-3 

Intro: We ended last week with a real cliffhanger

Joseph had put the squeeze on brothers until they broke
– he was satisfied with what he discovered through the pranks he played on them
• they were not only able to admit their guilt, but they indicated a true change of heart
– Joseph’s game ended with Judah’s speech
• Joseph felt it was time to lose the disguise and reveal the truth, “I am Joseph!”

Vv. 1-3, Earlier, Joseph had turned away each time he broke down

Not this time – he could not control himself — the dam broke and a flood of emotion swept over him
– “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?”

Now, we must try to get inside his brothers’ minds

  1. Suddenly he was addressing them personally – in Hebrew!
  2. He was saying a name they had not dared to speak
  3. He was telling them that he is Joseph
    • it would be like seeing a ghost
    • after the string of calamities they suffered, this is the worst
    ○ they were speechless – silenced by terror

Vv. 4-5, Joseph had to continue to take initiative

“Come close” – he needed to close distance between himself and them
– in space, but also time (all those years they were separated)
• there was also a relational distance to close
• he had to address what they did to him, but he also had to resolve it
– once they moved in, he spoke with more composure
• this time, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold . . .”
• there is now no doubt as to who it is standing before them
○ this brief statement about them selling him into Egypt is the only hint of an accusation he made
○ and he immediately disarmed it with words of consolation, “Now do not be grieved . . .”

Vv. 6-11, The key themes of this unit emerge in the repetitions:

Three times he says, “God sent me”
– “to preserve life,” “to keep you alive,” and, “it was not you who sent me here, but God”

Two times he says, “God made me”
– “a father to Pharaoh” and “lord of all Egypt”
• he is fully conscious of the fact that the high position he held was not his achievement

Joseph has forgiven his brothers without having to say it
– sometimes, to say “I forgive you,” humiliates the very person we want to reconcile
– Joseph had redefined what they did to him
• now he could make their physical needs his priority
• he committed his authority and power to their welfare
• where others may have seen only jealousy and cruelty, Joseph saw the hand of God

Vv. 12-20, It makes sense that in the scene where Joseph reveals himself, there is a theme of sight

He wanted them not only to see, but to behold their act of seeing
– that is, to see and to be aware of their seeing
• this is because their job will be to tell Jacob all that they see
• once their eyes were opened, they saw ever greater dimensions of Joe’s splendor
– after revealing himself and his greatness to them, Joseph embraced them
• he confirmed his affection for them with actions
○ imagine this powerful person embracing them as their brother
○ this is what it is like for us to be held in the arms of Jesus
– it took all of this for them to finally be able to talk with him (cf. Gen. 37:4)

The sight theme is carried forward into the palace
– that Joseph’s brothers had come to Egypt was “good in the eyes” of Pharaoh and his servants
– and when Pharaoh gave them an open invitation, he told them not to concern themselves with their “goods”
• the Hebrew literally reads, “Do not let your eye regret” (what you leave behind)

Jumping ahead, the climax of this sight theme comes in verse 27
– Jacob heard his sons’ story of what they had seen and saw for himself the wagons and it was “enough” for him
• he was now confident that he would also see Joseph again
• so he was encouraged to make one last difficult journey

Vv. 21-28, Joseph’s gifts to his brothers echo previous episodes

He gives them clothing – clothing had monetary value like currency
– the last time they saw him, they had stripped his robe from him
• this gift of clothing almost celebrates that moment – the first major turning point for Joseph
– I won’t belabor every detail: (five changes of garments to Benjamin [43:34], the donkeys, “the journey” [vv. 23-24])
• we’ll stay with the story and move straight to their arrival back home in Canaan

Their first announcement to Jacob, “Joseph is still alive” — immediately caused Jacob heart palpitation
– perhaps he turned ashen, grabbed his chest, and fell into their arms
– then they reported all that Joseph told them
• that and the trademark sleek design of the Egyptian wagons, convinced Jacob that their words were true

The last unit plays on a life and death theme that appeared at the beginning
– Joseph’s first question was, “Is my father still alive?”
• his brother’s first announcement to Jacob was, “Joseph is still alive”
• then Joseph spoke of God’s purpose for him, which was to “preserve life” and “keep you alive”
– Jacob almost died, but then his spirit revived (came back to life)
• and the chapter ends with Jacob’s statement: “my son Joseph is still alive, I will go and see him before I die

Let’s step back and look at the big picture

The whole time Joseph’s brothers were fretting their bad luck, he was right there
– he was not only with them, but he was already preparing a wonderful future for them
• as for them, they came to Egypt not knowing whether he was even alive
• they were only aware of them running into one hardship after another

Joseph’s eyes had been opened to God’s hand at work in his circumstances
– in the same way God had been invisible to him, yet present, he had been invisible to his brothers, yet present
• so what seemed to be against them had been for them; what had been painful brought joy; what had been lost was restored and with it a great abundance
– the breakthrough for us is to realize the invisible hand of God is working within our hardships while we are within them
• this is the challenge and victory of faith (Heb. 11:1)

What was different for Joseph’s brothers now?
– not their situation – they were in his hands during their trials and they still are in his hands
• but the difference is, now they are aware (the theme of sight plays into this open-eyed awareness)
– they know who this great man is — it is their brother, Joseph
• and they know who their brother is — everything he had dreamed

Conc: I want to connect this episode with two moments of revelation in the New Testament

“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Mt. 16:13-17)
– why does Jesus ask? Because everything depends on knowing him
• his teaching won’t save them
○ if someone is drowning, you are not going to save them by standing on the pier shouting swimming instructions to them
• it is Jesus swimming out to us and with his own hand bringing us to shore that is our salvation
– the disciples answered, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah, . . . Jeremiah, or one of the prophets”
• each name pointed to someone known to be extraordinary
○ perhaps Jesus was the prophet who could lead them back to God
• what they did not see was that Jesus is God making his way to them — to us
– Jesus then directed his question to his disciples, “But who do you say that I am”
• because it comes down to this – it is just this personal
• he is our Joseph – present, at work in our circumstances, but hidden
○ and it took a miracle of revelation for them to see this

The other moment of revelation I want to consider is Paul’s conversion
– remember? he was on his way to Damascus to continue his persecution of Christians
• he collapsed on the road under a brilliant light and heard a voice say, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
• and when he answered, “Who are You, Lord,” he heard,  “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting”
○ how like Joseph’s brothers! The one they had persecuted was their lord who chose to save them
– we need our moment of revelation, when the fog clears, the wall comes down, and in one brilliant flash our souls see Jesus
• who has been here the whole time
• who has all our circumstances well in hand
• and is working all things together for our good

Are we willing to allow God’s Spirit to awaken us?
Are we ready?

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