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.
“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)
Speaking among themselves, Joseph’s brothers 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.”
One night Joseph had a dream, and the following morning, Joseph said, “Listen to this dream. We were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!” Soon Joseph had another dream, and again he told his brothers about it. “Listen, I have had another dream,” he said. “The sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed low before me!”
His brothers responded, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them. His brothers were jealous of Joseph, and they wanted to destroy Joseph’s dream. But they did not know how to do it actually.
Joseph did not know what his dreams really meant. Joseph openly spoke about his dreams as if he had already possessed them, but it was not the case. Joseph was too immature to own his dreams. His vessel was too small to contain the magnitude of his dreams. As embracing the dreams, God led Joseph through the walk, following the paths of the righteousness of God.
The first trial came to Joseph. Joseph searched for his brothers who went to pasture their father’s flocks per his father’s request. When Joseph’s brothers saw Joseph coming, they recognized him in the distance. As he approached, they made plans to kill him. “Here comes the dreamer!” they said. “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, ‘A wild animal has eaten him.’ Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!”
However, they could not kill Joseph, their own brother, but they sold him to slavery. They received twenty pieces of silvers from Ishmaelite traders, who in turn sold Joseph to Potiphar in Egypt. Due to his dreams, Joseph became a slave. But because of his dreams, he could overcome slavery. The one who gave the dreams was God, and the one who made Joseph overcome slavery was God also. Joseph believed his dreams came from God, and he could stand tall again in faith while fixing his eyes on the dreams. Soon his master put him in charge of his entire household.
Then another trail came to Joseph. His master’s wife falsely accused Joseph, and his master sent him to prison. Joseph acted righteously before God despite her seduction while trusting God, but he was ended up in prison. Joseph struggled in prison, and he even doubted God and His righteousness.
On the other hand, God carefully watched over Joseph when Joseph was struggling in faith in prison. Joseph did not know, but it was the period set by God to mature Joseph in Him. God was always right next to Joseph and strengthened Joseph. Joseph struggled and struggled in prison, but God’s love was getting stronger. Finally, Joseph stood tall again in faith. As God’s time came, God made Joseph see his dreams again. Joseph regained purpose in his life, even in prison. Then Joseph came out stronger in faith than before. He even could overcome the not-so-good relationship with God. It was Joseph’s true victory in faith, and God led Joseph through the victory by encouraging Joseph when he was at the bottom in prison. God used the dreams God gave Joseph.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28)
God made the next move as Joseph was ready. God sent two prisoners, who were Pharoh’s chief cup-bearer and the chief baker. One night they had dreams, and Joseph interpreted the dreams. Three days later, as Joseph predicted, Pharaoh restored the chief cup-bearer to his former position while impaling the chief baker. Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer, however, forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought. Joseph felt his betrayal from the chief cup-bearer because the cup-bearer was the only hope to tell Pharaoh to be released from prison. Even so, Joseph was calm in faith in God.
Joseph again won the victory by fixing his eyes on the dreams that God gave him. Then Joseph endured in faith. Joseph, however, remained in prison for another two full years as set by God. One night Pharaoh had two dreams, but nobody could interpret them. The chief cup-bearer finally remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh about Joseph, who interpreted his dream. And Pharaoh restored him as Joseph predicted.
Pharaoh sent for Joseph at once, and he was quickly brought from the prison. After he shaved and changed his clothes, he went in and stood before Pharaoh. Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream last night, and no one here can tell me what it means. But I have heard that when you hear about a dream, you can interpret it.”
“It is beyond my power to do this,” Joseph humbly replied. “But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.” Joseph had been walking with God through the ups and downs, and he gained true knowledge about who God was. Joseph, fearlessly without hesitation, gave all credits to God standing before Pharaoh. Pharaoh was the god in Egypt. Speaking about another god before Pharaoh was not wise because Pharaoh could immediately put the person death, as the crime of blaspheming the god, Pharaoh, himself. However, God already worked on Pharaoh’s heart even before Joseph professed his faith.
Pharaoh along with all wise men in the entire Egypt carefully listened to Joseph’s interpretation. Then Pharaoh asked his officials, “Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?” Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are. You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.”
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 lavishly blessed Joseph, including his new two sons. Joseph was so much comforted by God, and he completely forgave his brothers while forgetting what they did to him. 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 completely got out of his past pain, which was the greatest blessing to Joseph. Joseph also truly experienced God’s blessings in the land where he arrived as a mere slave.
At last, 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.
His brothers came to Egypt to buy grain, and they bowed low to Joseph because Joseph was governor of all Egypt and in charge of selling grain to all the people. Joseph recognized his brothers instantly, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where are you from?” he demanded.
“From the land of Canaan,” they replied. “We have come to buy food.”
Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they didn’t recognize him. And he remembered the dreams he’d had about them many years before.
All these things had quickly gone through his brain in a split second., including his brothers’ vicious act of selling him to slavery, his master wife’s seduction and false accusation leading to imprisonment, and the broken promise of the chief cup-bearer. All gave him heartbreaks and pains. Joseph could endure them not by himself but because of God, who walked with him throughout the journey. Whenever Joseph struggled, God showed his mercy by reminding his dreams again and again. Then Joseph stood firm and tall in faith by trusting God, which made Joseph move forward again. Finally, he arrived at the point where his dreams came true. His brothers bowed low to him, which was not a dream, but reality. Then he came back to himself.
Joseph pondered what to do next. What came to him was his desire to see his younger brother, Benjamin, who was not there with the other ten brothers. Benjamin is the only other brother from the same mother, Rachel. Joseph quickly devised a plan to see his only younger brother Benjamine.
He said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see how vulnerable our land has become.” Joseph started pushing his brothers. Joseph’s strategy was to make them hang on to their integrity. Then he drove his brothers directly to his goal – seeing his younger brother, Benjamin, again.
“No, my lord!” his brothers exclaimed. “Your servants have simply come to buy food. We are all brothers—members of the same family. We are honest men, sir! We are not spies!”
“Yes, you are!” Joseph said. “You have come to see how vulnerable our land has become.” Joseph pushed his brothers hard once more.
“Sir,” they said, “there are actually twelve of us. We, your servants, are all brothers, sons of a man living in the land of Canaan. Our youngest brother is back there with our father right now, and one of our brothers is no longer with us.”
Then Joseph laid out what he wanted. “As I said, you are spies! This is how I will test your story. I swear by the life of Pharaoh that you will never leave Egypt unless your youngest brother comes here! One of you must go and get your brother. I’ll keep the rest of you here in prison. Then we’ll find out whether or not your story is true. By the life of Pharaoh, if it turns out that you don’t have a younger brother, then I’ll know you are spies.”
So Joseph put all of his brothers in prison. His brothers tasted the misery of imprisonment. They were tormented while worrying about their unclear future because they were helpless in prison. They were stuck in prison in Egypt. Each night was torture for them.
Joseph brough them back to him on the third day and said, “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 because they clearly knew they were under the mercy of Joseph, but they still believed Joseph was the Governor of all Egypt and in charge of selling grain.
Speaking among themselves, 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.”
“Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy?” Reuben asked. “But you wouldn’t listen. And now we have to answer for his blood!” After three days’ imprisonment, all realized how wickedly they acted to his brother, Joseph. All sins, especially big ones like Joseph’s brother did, will surely come back and hunt us like the brothers. Such sins will never leave us and always come back to haunt us, which is the sin nature.
The brothers didn’t know that Joseph understood them, for he had been speaking to them through an interpreter. Joseph finally saw his brothers were also suffering from what they did. Yes, sins hurt all — those who sin, those who are hut by the sin, and the people surrounding them, including their families and community. Sin is like yeast, which quickly spreads out and makes suffering even the entire nation.
Now Joseph saw both sides of the vicious sin. There was no other way except emotionally pouring out his past pain. He witnessed the unresolved lingering pains in his brothers’ hearts. Joseph’s heart was truly breaking. He could not stand anymore before his brothers as if he did not know anything about their guilt, feelings, and pains.
Joseph turned away from them and got into his room. He began to weep. His past fell on him and caused an emotional avalanche of huge snow mountains destroying everything in the way in his heart. He wept and wept. It was the final vent of his painful past. When he regained his composure, he came out of his room as if nothing had happened to him.
Joseph sternly spoke to them again. Then he chose Simeon from among them and had him tied up right before their eyes as if he did not care for any of the brothers, although he truly cared for each of them from the bottom of his heart because he truly forgave his brothers’ sin. Joseph was now sympathetic about his brothers still suffering from the sin committed a long time ago.
Joseph then ordered his servants to fill the men’s sacks with grain, but he also gave secret instructions to return each brother’s payment at the top of his sack, which was Joseph’s heart to support their journey home. Joseph secretly gave his kindness to his brothers out of his sympathy and care. So the brothers loaded their donkeys with the grain and headed for home.
But when they stopped for the night, and one of them opened his sack to get grain for his donkey, he found his money in the top of his sack. “Look!” he exclaimed to his brothers. “My money has been returned; it’s here in my sack!” Then their hearts sank. Trembling, they said to each other, “What has God done to us?” Joseph’s kindness, in turn, became fear of their sin committed to his brother, Joseph.
The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions. (Proverbs 28:1)
When the brothers came to their father, Jacob, in the land of Canaan, they told him everything that had happened to them. “The man who is governor of the land spoke very harshly to us,” they told him. “He accused us of being spies scouting the land. But we said, ‘We are honest men, not spies. We are twelve brothers, sons of one father. One brother is no longer with us, and the youngest is at home with our father in the land of Canaan.’
“Then the man who is governor of the land told us, ‘This is how I will find out if you are honest men. Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take grain for your starving families and go on home. But you must bring your youngest brother back to me. Then I will know you are honest men and not spies. Then I will give you back your brother, and you may trade freely in the land.’”
The brothers did not know the man was Joseph, whom they cold-heartedly sold to slavery. Their youngest brother, Joseph, begged and pleaded not to sell. Then they thought that they had forgotten what they had done. They were wrong. Their sin had never left them. It was always with them but just dormant in their heart. As the opportunity came, the sin immediately came back and bit them. Then, their sin continuously lingered with them from Egypt to their home.
Thus, they came back home together with the lingering pain of their long-forgotten past sin. As they emptied out their sacks, there in each man’s sack was the bag of money he had paid for the grain! Then the brothers and their father were now terrified when they saw the bags of money. Joseph gave favor to them, which made them terrified. Why? Because of their sin. If they did not sin against his brother, they would have had responded completely differently. Yes, sin is terrible, and the weight of the sin was too heavy to bear but being terrified.
Jacob, their father, 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!” It was Jacob’s lamentation. While lamenting, Jacob also remembered what he did to his brother, Esau, and his uncle, Laban. Jacob’s past was also tainted with his sins. Upon Jacob’s contrite prayer throughout the night, God forgave his sins and gave a new name, “Israel” as the sign, but Jacob’s painful past was still with him. This is the power of sin. However, sin cannot prevail to the end because of Jesus Christ. Why? Jesus Christ, Our Savior, paid all for all our sins on the cross. There is no more condemnation of sin. In Him, all are free from sin, although Satan always attempts to take back to the terrible guilt and pain of the past sin. No more. To us all, it is the Good News from God, Our Merciful, Ever-Loving, and Eternal Father.
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8)
“I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again. (Isaiah 43:25)