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Genesis 42





The story of Genesis 42 is the start of reconciliation. It was also the fulfillment of the dreams Joseph had 20 years earlier. If you remember, in Genesis 37, these dreams contributed to the hate his brothers had for him. Joseph was in Egypt in the first place because of his brothers trying to squash these dreams. They acted in selfishness and pride. In this chapter, we find them in the humble state of bowing their faces to the ground.

Let’s back up a bit. WE know from our reading yesterday that there was a famine across the land. Jacob knew he needed a plan and had heard that Egypt was filled with grain. Grain was a priceless commodity in this time period because it could be put in almost everything they ate. They also used it as currency at times. Jacob knew he needed to send his sons to Egypt. His sons knew that their brother had the potential to be there. Or, that he died there due to their betrayal. They STILL felt guilty because when their dad brought up his plan, they shot each other a look. But what do they do? He’s their dad, and quite frankly, he’s in charge. So, they listen and every brother goes except for the youngest one, Benjamin. Jacob still didn’t trust his sons after what had happened with Joseph.

When they arrive in Egypt, they meet the leader of the land, aka Joseph. Joseph knew who they were immediately. But the boys had no clue. Never had they thought that selling their brother into slavery would lead to him ruling over the land. They thought he was dead or still doing slave labor somewhere. Joseph keeps his identity a secret from them for a while and even uses an interpreter to hide the fact that he speaks Hebrew.

As Joseph is talking with them, he remembers the dreams that he had and the fact that his brothers sold him into slavery. If there were any feelings of joy from the reunion, they quickly turned to fear since Joseph did not know whether he could trust his brothers. So, what does he do? He throws them into prison. On the third day, he offers them a deal.

Verses 18- 20 say, “On the third day 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.” He was not trying to play games with them like you may think. Many scholars believe the Lord was orhcestrating these events so the brothers would repent.

So, of course they agree because they don’t want to die in a cell. They had also been feeling guilty about Joseph because immediately after the deal was offered, they started talking about how this is their punishment for what they did. They left Simeon and went home. There was no clear connection between the two situations. But, when you are guilty, everything seems like punishment of sin.

Joseph could obviously understand what they were saying and he began to weep. His heart was moved by the fact that the Holy Spirit was working on their conscience about this issue so many years later. God had to move in big ways in their hearts for complete reconciliation in these brothers' lives. God’s hand was guiding this complex story of restoration.

One of the acts that led the brothers toward repentance was Joseph returning the brothers' payment. He ordered his servants to fill their bags with grain and put the payment of silver they brought in the bags. Joseph wanted to take care of his brothers, so he made sure they had provisions for the journey. Even before Joseph’s brothers had repented, he loved them. He showed them grace and provision, much like what Jesus shows us today. When the brothers discovered this silver, the Holy Spirit used it to work on their conscience.

We have to remember that feeling guilty is not always a bad thing. 2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” We should feel sorrow when we sin against God because that shame guilt is what can actually push us to God so that we turn from sin. It can allow us to come into the light and to seek reconciliation.

The chapter ends with them going to their father, Jacob, and explaining everything that had happened. Jacob is not impressed. He sees the silver and concludes that Simeon is now going to be dead as well. Jacob even says, “Everything is against me!” which is probably how the brothers felt as well. Little did they know, God was orchestrating this plan of bringing light back into their life. Not only was Simeon not dead, he would soon discover that Joseph was alive as well.

Imagine if Joseph would have stayed in the bitterness and unforgiveness that came from having his brothers sell him. He might have missed those prompts from the Holy Spirit that led to the reconciliation with his brothers. What if the brothers did not allow the Godly sorrow to lead to repentance? We will discover how this story of restoration plays out throughout the next few days. But it shows how God can use everything, even evil actions of others, to bring about good things. We can trust that God’s wisdom and goodness are greater than the evil of man. And, we should align our actions with the Holy Spirit so that we can live in the fullness of the plans he has for us.


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