Light for the Last Days

The tough road to repentance


We come to Genesis chapter 42. All this time Jacob and the remaining brothers in Canaan did not know what had happened to Joseph. There were no text messages he could send to say what had happened.

Basically, as far as they were concerned, as far as of Jacob was concerned, Joseph was dead. The brothers knew he wasn’t dead but they didn’t know what happened to him.

They heard that there was grain in Egypt, so they were ready to go down to get grain because the famine had already started and they were beginning to feel the pinch.

So, they go down to Egypt and we take up the reading in verse 6 of chapter 42 which is where Joseph’s first dream begins to be fulfilled:

Now Joseph was governor over the land; and it was he who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the earth. Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he acted as a stranger to them and spoke roughly to them. Then he said to them, “Where do you come from?”

And they said, “From the land of Canaan to buy food.”

So Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. Then Joseph remembered the dreams which he had dreamed about them, and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see the nakedness of the land!”

10 And they said to him, “No, my lord, but your servants have come to buy food. 11 We are all one man’s sons; we are honest men; your servants are not spies.”

12 But he said to them, “No, but you have come to see the nakedness of the land.”

13 And they said, “Your servants are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and in fact, the youngest is with our father today, and one is no more.”

14 But Joseph said to them, “It is as I spoke to you, saying, ‘You are spies!’ 15 In this manner you shall be tested: By the life of Pharaoh, you shall not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 Send one of you, and let him bring your brother; and you shall be kept in prison, that your words may be tested to see whether there is any truth in you; or else, by the life of Pharaoh, surely you are spies!” 17 So he put them all together in prison three days.

18 Then Joseph said to them the third day, “Do this and live, for I fear God: 19 If you are honest men, let one of your brothers be confined to your prison house; but you, go and carry grain for the famine of your houses. 20 And bring your youngest brother to me; so your words will be verified, and you shall not die.”

Genesis 42.6-20

This is a very important verse

21 Then they said to one another, “We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us.”

22 And Reuben answered them, saying, “Did I not speak to you, saying, ‘Do not sin against the boy’; and you would not listen? Therefore behold, his blood is now required of us.” 23 But they did not know that Joseph understood them, for he spoke to them through an interpreter. 24 And he turned himself away from them and wept. Then he returned to them again, and talked with them. And he took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes.

Genesis 42.21-24

Joseph then sends them back, gives them the money back in their sacks and they return to their father.

In verse 29,

29 Then they went to Jacob their father in the land of Canaan and told him all that had happened to them, saying: 30 “The man who is lord of the land spoke roughly to us, and took us for spies of the country. 31 But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies. 32 We are twelve brothers, sons of our father; one is no more, and the youngest is with our father this day in the land of Canaan.’ 33 Then the man, the lord of the country, said to us, ‘By this I will know that you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, take food for the famine of your households, and be gone. 34 And bring your youngest brother to me; so I shall know that you are not spies, but that you are honest men. I will grant your brother to you, and you may trade in the land.’ ”

Genesis 42.29-34

They then speak about how the Lord of Egypt (Joseph) told them to bring him the youngest son.

In verse 36, Jacob their father says to them:

 “You have bereaved me: Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you want to take Benjamin. All these things are against me.”

Genesis 42.36

37 Then Reuben spoke to his father, saying, “Kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you; put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.”

Genesis 42.37

38 But he said, “My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is left alone. If any calamity should befall him along the way in which you go, then you would bring down my gray hair with sorrow to the grave.”

Genesis 42.38

So, we see here that Joseph recognizes them but that they don’t recognize him. Joseph is speaking another language, and they’re speaking Hebrew, I guess, and Joseph can understand them, but they don’t know that.

He can understand them, and the dream is now coming to pass.

What is he going to do? Well, he could say, ‘You guys you say this brother is no more, yet he is standing in front of you. I’m the brother you put in prison, the one you sold down to the Ishmaelites‘.

That would have been a bit of a shock for them. Why doesn’t he do that? Because he wants to test them, to see where they are now. And he wants to bring them to a change of heart. He wants to see what they are thinking, and this is where the spiritual bit comes in really.

Because, often, God allows tests to come into our lives to see where we’re at, and to bring us to the point where we can recognize our faults, our past sins and confess them, and put them right.

Until they do this, Joseph is not going to make himself known to them. It is interesting that by this time, Joseph, as far as they are concerned, is a foreigner. He is an Egyptian; he doesn’t look like them, he’s not speaking their language, he’s dressed in the clothes of an Egyptian Lord. How can he be one of them?

Yet, in fact, he is one of them, and the whole point of the story is: how are they going to find out that he is in fact their brother? And, what’s the point of this story?

Notice what they say in verse 21,

“We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us.”

This is 20 years later. That has been on their minds for the last 20 years, and now they’re having to confront the fact. And they’re recognizing there’s a connection between the fact that they’re going through trouble at this time and their indifference and their contempt for their brother, the sin they committed against their brother all those years ago.

And Ruben tells them, ‘I told you not to sin against the boy but you wouldn’t listen. Now his blood is required upon us‘.

“Did I not speak to you, saying, ‘Do not sin against the boy’; and you would not listen? Therefore behold, his blood is now required of us.”

Genesis 42.22

Wow! This is quite a statement, isn’t it? They are recognizing the connection with what they’ve done in the past, and the fact that they’re now having to suffer and are now in trouble.

How can they put it right? Well, they go home and tell Jacob what’s happened and Jacob’s response is is one of frankly of despair. He says,

 “You have bereaved me: Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you want to take Benjamin. All these things are against me.”

Genesis 42.36

If only Jacob knew that, actually, at this point, God was coming very close to him and was offering him something which he could even not even dream of: seeing again his beloved son Joseph.

This point really is quite self-pitying not looking for faith in God going to change later it’s interesting that this point he’s called Jacob and that later on, he’s called Israel. Jacob is a statement of his unbelief if you like, and Israel, as he becomes a believer and a prince with God, is the name which God gave him.

God wants us to walk in faith with the new name that God has given us through Yeshua.

Sometimes, even in adverse circumstances, he wants us to walk in faith and victory.

Romans 8 says,

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Romans 8.28

If you’re in Christ, if you’re in the Messiah, then even the bad things which happen in your life can work for good. That is one of the lessons which come comes through clearly in the story of Joseph and his brothers.

What makes a difference is being in Messiah, having Yeshua in our lives.

At that moment, for Joseph’s brothers, he is outside of their lives. Joseph, in one sense, represents Yeshua in the story.

When they come to recognize Yeshua, when they come to recognize Joseph, that’s when it’s all going to change. He makes the difference to the bitter experiences of life and that phrase ‘all things are against me’ Jacob utters, sometimes, Jewish people experiencing some of the terrible things which have come against them, in the Holocaust even or in what’s happening today in Israel and Gaza, will say ‘All things are against me‘ ‘Where’s God in all of this?‘ ‘Why doesn’t God help me?‘ ‘All things are against me.‘ It is at that point God is calling even the Jewish people to repentance and faith, and to the recognition of sin, even past sin in relation to Yeshua, to bring about reconciliation with God, and to bring a new start.

That is really what this whole story is about. When Israel is reconciled to Yeshua, they’ll know that all things are working for good, for them, and they will see God working for good in even in the bad situations.

36 And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.

Mark 14.36

It is a reminder to us as well that God sees beyond the immediate into the Eternal, into the spiritual realities which are behind the situation. Sometimes, we can have our disappointments. Have you had any disappointments in your life? Probably, right? Sometimes, our disappointments may actually be God’s appointments, and God may be using the stuff which happens to us.

I remember when I was a young man, before I became a Christian, I had a German girlfriend called Stephi. I was was really desperate to marry Stephi and then she dumped me, and I was absolutely mortified. Now I thank God she did so because it would have been a disaster, and I have had two good wives following that. Not at the same time by the way! Nikki and Barbara after I became a Christian.

If God had allowed me to marry Stephi, my whole life would have been totally different. I might have ended up living in Germany. I wouldn’t have had anything like the ministry which I have today and so, you can see that, sometimes, out of our disappointments, God is working to bring good out of that.

Maybe you’ve had some disappointments, but God wants to bring good even out of those disappointments and trials. They may be a stepping stone to the development of our character and we see that, in many places, the Christians who are persecuted are often the most spiritual ones we can find and we are reminded of the scripture in 1 Peter 1.6 where it says,

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honour, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1.6-9

Tony Pearce

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