As we return to the story of Joseph in Genesis, here are a few things to remember:
· Joseph was 30 years old when he entered into Pharoah’s service. He is now about 39.
· Egypt is two years into the famine at this point of the story (Gen. 42)
· Jacob, Joseph’s father has been in Canaan over 20 years believing his son Joseph is dead.
Genesis 42 opens with Jacob learning there is grain in Egypt and he asks his sons, “Why do you just keep looking at each other?” Then he orders them to “Go down there and buy some [grain] for us, so that we may live and not die. Ten of Jacob’s sons went down to Egypt, but Jacob kept Benjamin home with him “because he was afraid that harm might come to him.”
The prophecy originally given to Joseph is about to be fulfilled in the three journeys to Egypt recorded in Genesis 42-46. The first journey is by Joseph’s scheming brothers (42:1-38), the second by the brothers and their younger brother Benjamin (43:1-45:28), and the third by all the brothers and his father, Jacob (46:1-27).
Here’s what one commentator noted: “The plot tension pertains primarily to the theme of the alienated brothers struggling toward reconciliation and secondarily with the family’s struggle to survive the famine. The two themes are inseparable. The family cannot find salvation in Egypt until the brothers are first reconciled with Joseph.” (Waltke)
It’s in chapter 42 that we see Joseph “testing” his brothers. Some commentators view Joseph as retaliating against his brothers as he seems to make them jump through some hoops. First, he accuses them of being spies, imprisons Simeon, and requires that they bring their youngest brother, Benjamin back with them. In verse 21 we hear for the first time the brothers’ considering their sin against Joseph. “Surely we are being punished because of our brother [Joseph]. We saw how distressed he was when we pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come on us.”
Joseph then orders his servants to place the silver they brought to buy grain back into their bags without their knowledge. When they discover it is there “their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, ‘What is this that God has done to us?” The brothers mention God for the first time here and seem to be acknowledging God’s involvement in the events of their lives. (Waltke)
We begin to see the brothers taking stock of their sin, but not without the hand of God being at work through it all.
We also see Joseph who has trusted God’s sovereignty begin to see the providential care of God, not only over his life, but also the life of his family.
Have you seen God’s providential care for you in your life? When? As you look back on that time, what stands out to you about God’s character? If you haven’t told anyone about this experience do so this week. Write about it in your journal so that it might be a testimony to future generations. Take a few moments to praise and thank God for his loving care over your life and those you love.