Joseph has been in Egypt now for twenty years and most likely speaks the local language fluently. Yet when he speaks to his brothers in Genesis 42:18 he uses the Hebrew word for God. This must have made them more comfortable with Joseph and they probably thought that he at least had a soft side and wasn’t as harsh as they had first concluded.
The dialog between the brothers in Genesis 42:21-22 is interesting. It had been 20 years and they still felt guilty about selling their brother. Now obviously selling a sibling would be hard to forget and would certainly bring a lot of guilt and shame. But I started thinking about mistakes I’ve made in the past and how I still think about them all these years later. Memory is a double-edged sword. There are plenty of memories that I have that are pleasant. But there are also some that I would really like to forget. But I don’t think God wants us to forget. This is not because He wants us to suffer with the painful memory of a bad mistake, as a spiteful human being might. Instead God wants us to learn from our mistakes. And we can’t truly learn from them if we forget them. The memories of our mistakes is also a reminder of just how evil we are and how much we are truly in need of forgiveness. God offers that forgiveness through His Son Jesus Christ.
Joseph sends his brothers back home to get their youngest brother but before doing so puts their money back in their sacks. Apparently this was a test to see if they had changed in 20 years. Joseph probably wanted to see if they would come back and get Simeon or if they would exchange another brother for money.
Jacob’s reacts very selfishly to the news that Simeon is being held and that Benjamin must go to Egypt. In fact he even delays in letting his sons return (Genesis 43:2, 10) while the grain they have runs out and Simeon languishes in prison. Its apparent that adversity did not make Jacob a better man. But it certainly made Joseph a better man. At 17 Joseph was haughty and full of himself. At 37 he is a responsible and trustworthy adult. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:
When faced with a difficult circumstance a wise person doesn’t ask “How can I get out of this?” but instead asks “What can I get out of this?”
Joseph got a lot out of his difficult circumstances. Jacob, his father, not so much.
I wonder if the brother’s noticed anything strange when they returned to Egypt and attended the banquet in their honor with Joseph. The brothers, being Hebrew, ate at their own table. This was probably not a surprise. But the Egyptians who were with Joseph didn’t eat with Joseph because Joseph as a Hebrew and they were Egyptians (although the brother’s didn’t know that the person they were dealing with was their Hebrew brother). I wonder if the brother’s noticed that. They must have thought something because Joseph seated them in their birth order.
I think Genesis 43:34 is another test of the brothers. Just like Jacob had shown Joseph special favor back home, Joseph treats Benjamin (his full brother by their mother Rachel) more special by giving him more food and drink. Perhaps Joseph is testing the brothers to see if they become jealous like they were jealous of Joseph all those years prior. No matter what anyone else has we should never be jealous. We should always be happy for that person. This is not easy for me. To be quite honest I often struggle knowing that other people have certain possessions that I don’t have or have certain talents that I wish I had. But God wants me to be happy with what I have. Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.
Another parable in Matthew 13 regarding the Kingdom of Heaven and the end times. Jesus tells us that a final judgement will happen when those who are righteous (cleared of their sins by the blood of Jesus) will be separated from the wicked (those who still have sin to pay for) for all time.
I think one of the most significant passages in the Gospels is Matthew 13:53-57. Jesus’s own family and friends from His hometown refused to believe in Him. Sometimes a person’s family won’t believe that someone has changed. They still look at the person the same way they did many years before. A few days ago Jesus taught us that earthly families are not as important as our eternal families. Staying in the same environment that we grew up in can hinder our growth. Sometimes the best thing for us to do is to leave our earthly families so we can grow into the person God wants us to be. God is all about growth. As we will see as we keep reading the Bible, God’s goal is to change us into being just like Jesus who was the model human being.
Psalm 18 continues today with a very vivid picture of God’s protection. Even though God is in heaven (verse 16) He reaches down and rescues those who call on Him. And the coolest thing about this Psalm is it tells us WHY God rescues. God rescues us because He delights in us. Isn’t that crazy cool? The God of the universe, who created every star, every rock, every cloud… DELIGHTS IN YOU! God didn’t make you for you. He made you for Him. He made you because He wanted someone just like you – yes, even with your faults and mistakes – to exist. Please take a moment to think about that. You are truly special. Even more special than Joseph was to Jacob. You are special to God.