Monday, July 25, 2011

Joseph Instructs His Brothers To Take Action - Genesis 45:9-15

“Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, “God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay.  You shall live in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children and your flocks and your herds and all that you have.  There I will also provide for you, for there are still five years of famine to come, and you and your household and all that you have would be impoverished.”’  Behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth which is speaking to you.  Now you must tell my father of all my splendor in Egypt, and all that you have seen; and you must hurry and bring my father down here.”  Then he fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck.  He kissed all his brothers and wept on them, and afterward his brothers talked with him.

After declaring himself to his brothers and telling them that they are not to blame themselves for the situation they are now in, but rather that it was God who orchestrated all of this for their own survival so that His promises to their great-grandfather Abraham, their grandfather Isaac, and their father Jacob would be fulfilled, Joseph now turns his attention to the action they must take.

His first concern was that they return to their father and give him the good news that his long-lost son, Joseph, is alive and well and has a message for him.  Note that he wanted them to “hurry”.  Joseph realized the importance of time given Jacob’s age.  He also wants Jacob to know that indeed God has made him successful and “lord of all Egypt”.  In essence, Joseph wanted his dad to know that God did indeed make his dreams a reality.  Joseph instructs his brothers to tell Jacob he wants him to come to him in Egypt and live there in a place called Goshen, and be blessed.  He was saying, “This is all of God’s general blessing that He promised you”.  Not only will Jacob be near Joseph, but his whole family and all their children will move there and be together with their flocks and herds.

And there’s more.  Joseph wants his father to know he will provide for Jacob and the family because there was still five more years of famine left to survive through.  He also wanted Jacob to know the consequences of his not coming to join him in Egypt.  He tells the brothers to tell Jacob they would die if they remained where they were.  We need to realize the significance of that in Jacob’s mind.  Not only would he want to live as long as he could as we all do, but I believe Joseph knew that Jacob would readily understand the impact of death on the God’s promise for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – the promise that God would build a nation out of the Israelites and that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through them.

As I write this, a question comes to my mind.  Imagine if Jacob had said, “No way!  We’re not going to Egypt.  We’ll stay right here and die off.”  What if God’s enemy had gotten to Jacob as only the Devil could do and have him reject Joseph’s offer?  What would that have meant for Israel and for us?  Of course, this line of thinking and questioning would lead us to a number of other topics including free will, God’s foreknowledge, etc.  I raise it only because some others reading this might.  Personally, I am satisfied God would have seen His plan worked out one way or another, for no matter how hard man -- with or without the help of the Enemy tries -- he cannot thwart God’s intentions.

Then Joseph addresses the brothers directly telling them that they are ‘eye witnesses’ to his existence and success.  He wants them, and Benjamin, to be his witnesses to their father Jacob.  Why he mentions Benjamin separately we do not know, except that perhaps he considers Benjamin very special and his only full-brother.  But what I noted here in Joseph’s reference to his brothers being witnesses is the parallelism between this and what Christ asked of his disciples as His ministry on earth was ending.  In fact, He continues to ask each of us to be His witness to others; to share with others what He has done for us.  We were not asked to be his “super salesmen”, only his witnesses.

When Joseph stopped speaking, he broke down again emotionally and hugged and kissed his brothers, crying on each of them, beginning with Benjamin.  Joseph not only provided for his brothers physically; he not only told them of his desire to take care of them and Jacob the rest of their lives; but he actually showed his love and affection to them.  He was willing to demonstrate his own weakness, lowering his guard and setting aside his position, to weep with them.  This is a watershed moment in the life of Joseph but one that brings about healing.  Verse 3 of this 45th chapter of Genesis ends with the words, “But his brothers could not answer him…”.  This current passage ends with the phrase “…and afterward his brothers talked with him.”  The relationship had been reconciled.

How are our relationships?  Is there a watershed moment we need to initiate and experience?  Are we ready to serve and to love and to show it unequivocally?  If there is such a moment that is required and we are not ready to bring it about, we may very well be hindering God’s plan for others and us.  That is an awesome responsibility but it is also an awesome opportunity He gives us.  I pray God will help us recognize its importance

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