Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community, and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the COVID-19. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. (1 John 2:16)
Joseph’s brothers and Jacob, their father, were terrified when they saw the bags of money. Jacob exclaimed, “You are robbing me of my children! Joseph is gone! Simeon is gone! And now you want to take Benjamin, too. Everything is going against me!” Jacob was in deep distress, and he did not what to do. It was the result of the sin of the brothers.
Joseph’s brothers hated Joseph because Joseph had his special dreams. In his dreams, his brothers bowed low to him. Joseph could not hold the dreams in his heart, but he openly talked to his brothers. No brothers spoke well about Joseph. One day, out of jealousy, they grabbed Joseph and forcefully sold Joseph to slavery for twenty pieces of silver one day. They rejoiced as his brother Joseph was taken away by the Ishmaelite traders. They then shouted in joy, “Let’s see what would happen to Joseph’s dreams.” They thought they took care of Joseph along with Joseph’s dreams that bothered them whenever they saw Joseph. Then they forgot about Joseph completely.
Many years later, a great famine came to the land where Joseph’s brothers and Jacob, their father, lived. Jacob heard that grain was available in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why are you standing around looking at one another? I have heard there is grain in Egypt. Go down there, and buy enough grain to keep us alive. Otherwise we’ll die.”
So Joseph’s ten older brothers went down to Egypt to buy grain. But Jacob wouldn’t let Joseph’s younger brother, Benjamin, go with them for fear some harm might come to him. Jacob still believed wild animals killed Joseph. It was a lie made up by Joseph’s brothers. One lie made Jocab live in the pain of losing his favorite son, Joseph, and the pain never left Jacob.
Joseph’s brother had long forgotten Joseph, but, in the meantime, Joseph became governor of all Egypt. God was with Joseph, and Joseph always believed in his dreams. Joseph fixed his eyes on his dreams again and again whenever life trials came to him while trusting God.
God guided Joseph through the paths of righteousness. The moment that God had planned for Joseph. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, called for Joseph, and Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams. Joseph gave all to God before interpreting, and after Joseph’s interpretation, Pharaoh and all of his officials highly praised Joseph. Pharaoh appointed Joseph as the 2nd most powerful person in Egypt.
Joseph ruled over Egypt. As predicted, for seven years, the land produced bumper crops. During those years, Joseph gathered all the crops grown in Egypt and stored the grain from the surrounding fields in the cities. He piled up huge amounts of grain like sand on the seashore. Finally, he stopped keeping records because there was too much to measure.
God was with Joseph, and God lavishly blessed Joseph and whatever he did. God did not forget to comfort Joseph. God gave him two sons. Joseph named his older son Manasseh, for he said, “God has made me forget all my troubles and everyone in my father’s family.” Joseph named his second son Ephraim, for he said, “God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief.” Joseph finally could forget his painful past filled with the unthinkable series of miseries, which was initiated by his brothers as soon as selling him to slavery.
Eventually, Joseph also forgot the painful past as his brothers did. But God mysteriously made Joseph and his brothers revisit the painful past to heal as Joseph was ready to be the person who would initiate healing, although his brothers were completely off-guarded.
The seven years of bumper crops throughout the land of Egypt came to an end. Then the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had predicted. The famine also struck all the surrounding countries. And people from all around came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph because the famine was severe throughout the world.
The famine made his brothers come to buy grains. They bowed low to the Egyptian governor without knowing the governor was indeed Joseph, who sold to slavery. Joseph realized his dreams came true as Joseph immediately noticed his brothers, but the brothers did not. Joseph searched for his only younger brother, Benjamin, but he was not with them. Benjamine and Joseph had the same mother, Rachel. Joseph’s affection for Benjamin was so great, and he really wanted to see Benjamin. Joseph devised a plan to bring down Benjamin to him in Egypt.
Joseph put his brothers in prison for three days. Joseph said to them, “I am a God-fearing man. If you do as I say, you will live. If you really are honest men, choose one of your brothers to remain in prison. The rest of you may go home with grain for your starving families. But you must bring your youngest brother back to me. This will prove that you are telling the truth, and you will not die.” To this they agreed.
Speaking among the brothers, they said, “Clearly we are being punished because of what we did to Joseph long ago. We saw his anguish when he pleaded for his life, but we wouldn’t listen. That’s why we’re in this trouble.”
Joseph heard it, which was the heart pain crying out from their past sin. Joseph saw the other side’s pain also. The pain was equally deep to both him and his brothers. Then Joseph turned away from them and began to weep. When he regained his composure, he spoke to them again. Then he chose Simeon from among them and had him tied up right before their eyes.
Joseph was pity on his brothers and ordered his servant to return their money by putting it in their sacks and to give them supplies for their journey home. The brothers could not understand why the Egyptian governor was so generous to them. Then they departed home.
As arriving home, they emptied out their sacks. There in each man’s sack was the bag of money he had paid for the grain! The brothers and their father were terrified when they saw the bags of money. Jacob exclaimed, “You are robbing me of my children! Joseph is gone! Simeon is gone! And now you want to take Benjamin, too. Everything is going against me!” Jacob never allowed his sons to return to Egypt not to lose any additional sons.
But the famine continued to ravage the land of Canaan. When the grain they had brought from Egypt was almost gone, Jacob started to discuss with his sons whether they went down to Egypt to buy grain again. Jacob truly hesitated to send his sons again to Egypt. He already lost Simeon from the last grain buying trip to Egypt.
However, Judah convinced Jacob, his father. So their father, Jacob, finally said to them, “If it can’t be avoided, then at least do this. Pack your bags with the best products of this land. Take them down to the man as gifts—balm, honey, gum, aromatic resin, pistachio nuts, and almonds. Also take double the money that was put back in your sacks, as it was probably someone’s mistake. Then take your brother, and go back to the man. May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, and may he send back your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.”
So the men packed Jacob’s gifts and double the money and headed off with Benjamin. They finally arrived in Egypt and presented themselves to Joseph. When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the manager of his household, “These men will eat with me this noon. Take them inside the palace. Then go slaughter an animal, and prepare a big feast.” So the man did as Joseph told him and took them into Joseph’s palace.
The brothers were terrified when they saw that they were being taken into Joseph’s house. “It’s because of the money someone put in our sacks last time we were here,” they said. “He plans to pretend that we stole it. Then he will seize us, make us slaves, and take our donkeys.” Joseph planned to give a feast to his brothers, but their sin made them terrified. Their sin of selling Joseph to slavery had never left them and haunted them. This is the sin nature. If we sin, sin will surely bite back us and sting our hearts with its terrible guilt and its consequence.
The brothers approached the manager of Joseph’s household and spoke to him at the entrance to the palace. “Sir,” they said, “We came to Egypt once before to buy food. But as we were returning home, we stopped for the night and opened our sacks. Then we discovered that each man’s money—the exact amount paid—was in the top of his sack! Here it is; we have brought it back with us. We also have additional money to buy more food. We have no idea who put our money in our sacks.” They answered as Joseph instructed.
“Relax. Don’t be afraid,” the household manager told them. “Your God, the God of your father, must have put this treasure into your sacks. I know I received your payment.” Then he released Simeon and brought him out to them.
The manager then led the men into Joseph’s palace. He gave them water to wash their feet and provided food for their donkeys. They were told they would be eating there, so they prepared their gifts for Joseph’s arrival at noon.
When Joseph came home, they gave him the gifts they had brought him, then bowed low to the ground before him. It was the second time Joseph’s brothers bowed low to Joseph as Joseph saw in his dreams. Joseph believed his dreams, and his dreams came true before his eyes.
After greeting them, he asked, “How is your father, the old man you spoke about? Is he still alive?” Joseph loved his father, Jacob. “Yes,” they replied. “Our father, your servant, is alive and well.” And they bowed low again.
Then Joseph looked at his brother Benjamin, the son of his own mother. “Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about?” Joseph asked. “May God be gracious to you, my son.”
Finally, Joseph saw his younger brother. Then Joseph hurried from the room because he was overcome with emotion for his brother. He went into his private room, where he broke down and wept. After washing his face, he came back out, keeping himself under control. Then he ordered, “Bring out the food!”
The waiters served Joseph at his own table, and his brothers were served at a separate table. The Egyptians who ate with Joseph sat at their own table because they despised Hebrews and refused to eat with them. Joseph told each of his brothers where to sit, and to their amazement, he seated them according to age, from oldest to youngest. And Joseph filled their plates with food from his own table, giving Benjamin five times as much as he gave the others. So they feasted and drank freely with him.
Joseph truly wanted to make Benjamin stay with him sooner even before bringing back all his brothers and his father, Jacob to Egypt. When his brothers were ready to leave, Joseph gave these instructions to his palace manager: “Fill each of their sacks with as much grain as they can carry, and put each man’s money back into his sack. Then put my personal silver cup at the top of the youngest brother’s sack, along with the money for his grain.” So the manager did as Joseph instructed him.
The brothers were up at dawn and were sent on their journey with their loaded donkeys. But when they had gone only a short distance and were barely out of the city, Joseph said to his palace manager, “Chase after them and stop them. When you catch up with them, ask them, ‘Why have you repaid my kindness with such evil? Why have you stolen my master’s silver cup, which he uses to predict the future? What a wicked thing you have done!’”
When the palace manager caught up with the men, he spoke to them as instructed. The brothers, without knowing what happened, denied any wrongdoing. Then they even suggested, “If you find his cup with any one of us, let that man die. And all the rest of us, my lord, will be your slaves.”
The palace manager searched the brothers’ sacks, from the oldest to the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack! When the brothers saw this, they tore their clothing in despair. Then they loaded their donkeys again and returned to the city.
Judah answered, “Oh, my lord, what can we say to you? How can we explain this? How can we prove our innocence? God is punishing us for our sins. My lord, we have all returned to be your slaves—all of us, not just our brother who had your cup in his sack.”
“No,” Joseph said. “I would never do such a thing! Only the man who stole the cup will be my slave. The rest of you may go back to your father in peace.”
Then Judah stepped forward and said, “Please, my lord, let your servant say just one word to you. Please, do not be angry with me, even though you are as powerful as Pharaoh himself.
“And now, my lord, I cannot go back to my father without the boy. Our father’s life is bound up in the boy’s life. If he sees that the boy is not with us, our father will die. We, your servants, will indeed be responsible for sending that grieving, white-haired man to his grave. My lord, I guaranteed to my father that I would take care of the boy. I told him, ‘If I don’t bring him back to you, I will bear the blame forever.’
“So please, my lord, let me stay here as a slave instead of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. For how can I return to my father if the boy is not with me? I couldn’t bear to see the anguish this would cause my father!” And all of the brothers said the same.
God provided an opportunity to repent what they did to Joseph truly as well as to demonstrate their love and care for their father, Jacob. They all humbly pleaded before Joseph as Joseph saw in his dreams. It was God’s will that God planned even before Joseph dreams and his brothers sold Joseph to slavery.
Our God is the God of reconciliation. How selfish and jealous the brothers were when they sold Joseph to slavery! But God changed their hearts using Joseph to be compassionate and caring for others even if they had to suffer for others. What a change made in their hearts and minds!
God was pleased with what was happening in the hearts of the brothers. God saw they were ready to receive God’s forgiveness. God let Joseph move on to the next step.
Joseph could stand it no longer. Many people were in the room. So 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.
Joseph saw his brothers were completely different from whom he used to know. They were caring and not self-serving. They were even willing to put out their own lives for each other. What a difference made since they sold Joseph to slavery! Not because Joseph saw his brothers, but because Joseph saw his brothers’ true hearts caring and loving, he wept. After all, his brothers were not monsters as he used to feel about them. Joseph wept. His weeping so loudly the Egyptians could hear him, and word of it quickly carried to Pharaoh’s palace.
There was no more reason not to reveal his identity to his brothers. After all, his brothers are loving and caring for each other. Joseph now wanted to rejoin the loving and caring family.
“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. 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.”
“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.” 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.
So Joseph sent his brothers off, and as they left, he called after them, “Don’t quarrel about all this along the way!” And they left Egypt and returned to their father, Jacob, in the land of Canaan.
“Joseph is still alive!” they told him. “And he is governor of all the land of Egypt!” Jacob was stunned at the news—he couldn’t believe it. But when they repeated to Jacob everything Joseph had told them, and when he saw the wagons Joseph had sent to carry him, their father’s spirits revived.
Then Jacob exclaimed, “It must be true! My son Joseph is alive! I must go and see him before I die.”
Finally, Jacob’s sorrow became a joy. His darkest memory became the most blessed reality. The misery had gone, and the hope of harmony and peace was dawning. It all started with the young Joseph’s dreams. Joseph loved his dreams not because he saw the end, but he could brag about his dreams to his brothers, which made his brothers hate him and finally sold Joseph to slavery to destroy Joseph’s dreams.
However, God used all – Joseph’s bragging about his dreams, his brothers’ jealousy, and the terrible sin of selling Joseph to slavery — to mold and change each of them in Him to love and care for each other as one family in Him.
God loves us, and all live together in unity in God while forgiving each other as God forgave us as God forgave all sins of each of us. Give freely what we get freely from God.
Freely you have received; freely give. (Matthew 10:8b)
How wonderful and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in harmony!
For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil
that was poured over Aaron’s head,
that ran down his beard
and onto the border of his robe.
Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon
that falls on the mountains of Zion.
And there the LORD has pronounced his blessing,
even life everlasting. (Psalm 113:1-3)