JOSEPH MAKES HIMSELF KNOWN TO HIS BRETHREN

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    [Genesis:43:15-34]; [Genesis:44:1-34]; [Genesis:45:1-15].

    Lesson No.: 
    38
    Class: 
    Senior
    Memory Verse: 

    "Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous, shall be delivered" (Proverbs 11:21).

    Cross References: 

    I The Scarcity of Food and the Second Trip to Egypt
    1. The continuing famine, and Simeon's retention by Joseph as a hostage, necessitate another trip to Egypt, [Genesis:43:1-2], [Genesis:43:15].
    2. The guilt-burdened brothers fail to see friendliness in Joseph's hospitality, [Genesis:43:16-22]; [Proverbs:13:15]; [Romans:2:9].
    3. Joseph's steward, a God-fearing man, reassures the anxious brothers, Genesis:43:23-25.

    II The Second Interview with Joseph
    1. In greeting Joseph, the eleven brothers completely fulfil his first prophetic dream, [Genesis:43:26-28]; [Genesis:37:7-8].
    2. Joseph yearns to reveal himself to his brothers, but wisely refrains from doing so, [Genesis:43:29-31].
    3. Joseph feasts with his brothers as guests, [Genesis:43:32-34].
    4. The transaction is completed and the money is again placed in each man's sack, together with Joseph's cup in Benjamin's sack, [Genesis:44:1-2].

    III The Beginning of Their Return Journey and Its Delay
    1. The eleven start home and are intercepted and accused of stealing, [Genesis:44:3-6].
    2. They protest the charge, defending their innocence to the extreme, [Genesis:44:7-10].
    3. The cup is found in Benjamin's sack and they all return to Joseph, [Genesis:44:11-13].
    4. Joseph charges them with the crime and Judah makes a heart-touching plea for clemency, admitting their guilt before God, [Genesis:44:14-34].

    IV Joseph's Revelation of His Identity
    1. The plea that Judah made touches Joseph's heart, [Genesis:45:1].
    2. Joseph makes himself known to his brethren, [Genesis:45:1-4].
    3. Seeing that they are truly repentant, Joseph absolves them of blame, showing that his being sold as a slave was a part of God's plan, [Genesis:45:5-8]; [Genesis:42:21-22]; [Genesis:44:16]; [Romans:8:28-31].
    4. Joseph requests them to live in Egypt during the remaining years of famine, [Genesis:45:9-15].

    Notes: 

    Twenty-two years had passed since the cruel day when Joseph was sold into bondage by nine of his brothers. This period of almost a quarter of a century had held much suffering for Joseph: false accusations had been made that caused him to languish in the dungeon of the king's prison for a long period of time; and at least twice in 13 years temporary prosperity had come to him after long and faithful service, only to be swept away overnight. He had also known the pangs of homesickness and longing for those of his own flesh and blood -- which many classify as being among the most poignant sufferings of our lives. More than that, he was separated from the worship of the true God. But through it all, we find Joseph remaining true to God, a shining jewel in the midst of adversity and reverses, a light in a nation of darkness, and an example of patience such as is seldom found in any land or country.

    The Bible is not the only book that tells the story of Joseph. So outstanding was his life that it has made its imprint on men of all creeds. We find references made to his unimpeachable conduct and character in secular writings of ancient as well as modern origin, and in the dogmas and writings of other religions than the true religion. False religions must borrow some truth to make their deception palatable; and the story of Joseph has been incorporated by them into their teachings as an example of a man who was true and faithful and a model for everyone to follow.

    The whole story of Joseph's treatment of his brethren, of his making himself known to them after he had sufficiently proved them, and of his sending for the whole family to come down to Egypt, is so plainly and graphically told in the scriptural account that it is unnecessary to explain it here. However, we can draw some valuable object lessons from it to apply to our everyday lives. Some of these we shall attempt to show here.

    First, we have the solemn fact of the unescapable guilt of sin. Our last lesson showed us how the guilt of selling their young brother into slavery had dogged the footsteps of the ten brothers for these long, weary years. No doubt, many times they thought about his parting pleas and cries as the caravan took him away into Egypt. On their beds at night, under the stars above, God had talked to them, reminding them of their evil deeds and convicting them of their sins. Now, many years afterward, we find that this guilt had so clouded their minds that they could not see that Joseph's act of hospitality in taking them into his own royal home as guests was an act of friendliness. They thought it was part of a plot that he might seek an occasion against them and take them for bondslaves. In our present-day language we might say that they were suspecting him of "creating an incident" that he might then accuse them and take their liberty and property in retribution.

    We saw how God ordered the whole affair so that the two brothers who were the most responsible for the sale of Joseph suffered the most and were required to take the positions of greatest anxiety in their trips to Egypt. This had its effect upon their hearts and consciences, and in this wonderful lesson we see what it did, particularly to Judah. When they were accused of the theft of Joseph's cup, Judah made an impassioned plea and a confession that caused Joseph to see that they had suffered enough for their sins. Twenty-two years of time had not destroyed the tender feelings of Joseph's heart. He could no longer contain himself, but wept as he revealed himself to them.

    The dream that God had given Joseph as a lad was fulfilled now, many years afterward. In the dream he had seen the sheaves belonging to his brothers doing "obeisance" to his sheaf. They had interpreted the dream themselves and then took offence at the interpretation of it; but now they did not hesitate to bow down to the ground in his presence, showing him the greatest honour possible, not realising at the time that he was their brother. Sometimes we have to wait a long time for God's plans to be worked out. It may take patience on our part, at times, to wait until God does it according to His will; but we may be sure that it takes infinitely greater patience on God's part to wait for us, and prepare us, so that we shall be able to fill the place He has for us in that great plan.

    In the incident where the brothers were falsely accused of stealing Joseph's cup some might feel that Joseph was taking unfair advantage of his brothers and that they were suffering wrongfully. This was just another step in the God-ordered plan to bring the sinful and arrogant brothers to a place of repentance. A sinner brings much suffering upon himself by his refusal to surrender to God. We can see that the brothers were here able to sense, from their own experience, the feeling of being falsely and wrongfully accused and thereby to know what suffering they had caused Joseph in the days of his youth.

    They had strong confidence in their innocence of the theft; and in spite of the former incident when their money was found in their sacks they made a strong boast as a guarantee of that innocence. God does permit things to come across our pathway to show us the foolishness of our self-sufficiency and the need that we have to lean upon Him in every phase of our life. The boastful attitude, and the overconfident assurance of their innocence, made their suffering all the greater when the cup was found -- to their utmost consternation -- in Benjamin's sack. Judah's heart-rending pleas revealed what was, no doubt, the deeply-felt sentiment of each of them. Any one of them would gladly have been retained as a slave, or suffered death, and let Benjamin return to his father, rather than to go back without him and witness again the now all-too-familiar grief of that old man over the loss of a favourite son.

    God saw that they had suffered enough by this time and He permitted Joseph to break down in their presence and weepingly tell them that he was actually their own brother. This revelation produced an effect that is hard for any of us to imagine. Combined grief and joy must have been theirs as they looked into the face of their long-lost brother. Joseph had been promoted to high honour in the greatest nation in the world at that time; and through his wisdom, in selling the grain to others outside of Egypt, that nation was becoming the wealthiest (Genesis:47:13-26).

    Joseph's attitude was remarkable. He did not blame them in the least. He did not reprove them; but instead, he attempted to comfort them in that trying hour by showing them that God was the author of the whole thing and that he had been sent to Egypt that many lives might be saved -- not only the lives of the Egyptians, but the lives of his father and his father's family also, through whom God had ordained that all people of the earth were to be blessed. The Scriptures were not written at that time; but these men came to know, from actual experience, one great truth that is contained in them, in which we take great comfort and consolation: "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Romans:8:28).

    Questions: 

    1. Why did Joseph's brothers have to make the second trip to Egypt?
    2. How many made the trip?
    3. What kind of reception did they receive?
    4. How did they interpret this reception?
    5. What effect did this visit have on Joseph?
    6. Why were they intercepted on their return home?
    7. Tell what Judah said in reply to the accusation.
    8. What effect did Judah's plea have on Joseph?
    9. What did Joseph give as the reason for his being sold into slavery?
    10. Did Joseph return evil to his brothers for the evil they did him?