JOSEPH MAKES HIMSELF KNOWN TO HIS BRETHREN

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

    Lesson No.: 
    38
    Class: 
    Junior
    Memory Verse: 

    “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another" (Ephesians 4:32).

    Notes: 

    Another Trip to Egypt
    It was a big moment for Joseph when his brothers returned with Benjamin, his favourite little brother who had grown up since they had last seen each other. Joseph wanted to do something to please them, so he had a great feast prepared in his own home to which he invited them. They should have been very happy to have dinner with the governor of Egypt, in the beautiful palace with its rich furnishings and many servants. But their consciences still hurt them, and they immediately thought they were going to be accused of stealing the money they had found in their sacks of grain.

    As soon as the brothers met the steward, they began making excuses about the money. No one had said anything about it, and they had done no wrong; but when there is condemnation for past sins in a person's life he will often feel guilty whether he has done evil at the present time or not.

    Many times when God convicts people of their sins they will try to explain that what they have done is not very bad and that they had no evil intentions. Perhaps no one knows of their deeds; but when the Spirit of God begins bringing the secret things to light, the natural tendency of a sinner, is to cover it up or try to make his deeds appear innocent.

    The steward tried to put Joseph's brothers at ease by telling them that their God had returned their money to them, and it was all meant for good. We do not know whether Joseph had told him that these men were his brothers, but he at least recognised them as Hebrews who were supposed to worship the true God, He also brought Simeon out of prison, which should have encouraged the brothers that all was well. Every courtesy of Egyptian hospitality was shown to these poor Hebrew shepherds who were tired and dusty from their long trip.

    The brothers had brought presents from their father, the best that they could find in the land of Canaan and they bowed themselves low before Joseph as they once more sought his favour. The Bible does not say that Joseph was at all interested in the presents. All he could think about was the welfare of his father. Jacob was getting quite old, and what if he should not live until Joseph could see him again? Those must have been anxious days for Joseph when the reunion with his family was so near, and all his years of loneliness would be ended. When he saw Benjamin he was so touched that he had to leave the room so his brothers would not see him weep.

    Another Trial
    Everyone had a wonderful time at the dinner. When the brothers were ready to leave, the steward filled all their sacks with food, and they started on their way. But their contentment was short-lived. Joseph had one more trial for them. Their money had again been put into their sacks with the corn, also Joseph's cup had been placed in Benjamin's sack. They were hardly out of the city when the steward overtook them and accused them of stealing from the governor's house. They were so sure that the steward was mistaken that they offered to be slaves if he were proved right; and they also condemned to death the one with whom the cup should be found. It was a terrible shock to them that the cup was found in Benjamin's sack. After all they had promised their father, they absolutely could not leave Benjamin in Egypt. So, they all went back to Joseph's house, and once more bowed themselves to the ground before him. These were the brothers who had once said they would never bow before Joseph, but this is the fourth instance we find recorded where they humbled themselves before their younger brother ([Genesis:42:6]; [Genesis:43:26], [Genesis:43:28]; [Genesis:44:14]).

    Judah's Supplication
    Judah made an eloquent plea before Joseph. He told him of the years of suffering Jacob had endured because of the loss of one other son, and how he had begged them not to take away his youngest. Judah said the grief of the bereavement would kill his father, and he begged to be allowed to remain in Benjamin's place.

    A Happy Reunion
    Joseph could see that his brothers were repentant and had been humbled, and he could keep back the tears no longer. He asked all the Egyptians to leave the room, and he told his brothers, "I am Joseph."

    What a happy moment it was for Joseph when he could tell his brothers he loved them, that he had forgiven them for all the suffering they had caused him! How happy we are when we forgive someone who has wronged us, and feel the heavenly fellowship that comes when there is nothing between us, and our brothers! Jesus is happy, too, to forgive the sinner who comes before Him in repentance; and the angels in Heaven rejoice with Him when a wandering child comes home. When we are united in the family of God, we can say with David, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" (Psalm:133:1).

    Joseph told his brothers not to blame themselves for selling him into Egypt, because he knew God had sent him to help keep the people alive during the years of famine. Joseph recognised the hand of God in all that had happened to him; and his constant faith through the years of trial was being rewarded. "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths" (Proverbs:3:6).

    Joseph told his brother all about the good fortune that had come to him in the land of Egypt, and he wanted them to hurry home and tell the good news to his father. He told them there would be five more years of famine, so they must all come down to this land to live on the bounty that had been stored up through the years of plenty. They were all so happy and excited about their reunion that the Egyptians in Pharaoh's house heard them; and they were happy, too, because of Joseph's joy.

    One in Christ
    All the glory and pomp of the Egyptian court, all the honours that had been placed upon Joseph (No man could lift a hand or a foot in all the land unless Joseph said he could -- [Genesis:41:44].) had not made him conceited or proud. He loved the humble Hebrew herdsman who had come from Canaan, more than all the lords and ladies of the king's court. The Hebrews were an abominations to the Egyptians, but not to Joseph. He had kept the love of God in his heart, which overlooked all the faults in the lives of his brothers.

    The Egyptians thought they were so much better than the Hebrews that they would not eat at the same table with them. There seems to have been race prejudice from the beginning of time, and it has brought much sorrow and heartache to many people. God did not mean it to be that way. In Proverbs:22:2, we read: "The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all." In New Testament times the Jews considered themselves the chosen people of God, and anyone else as unclean. Even Peter had that idea, but one day he admitted, "God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean" (Acts:10:28). Later the Apostle Paul told the Galatians: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians:3:28). Jesus came to save the "whosoever will," and His Blood was shed as much for the coloured man as for the white man, as much for a slave as for a king.

    Jesus expects His followers to be kind to everyone. When He was on earth He loved the poor, the weak, those whom no one else cared for; and He did good to them. He healed the lepers whom most people avoided. That love is still extended to all men; and He wants us to love the least of His little ones.

    We have learned the Golden Rule, "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." We know the rule, but do we practice it? Jesus said, "For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them" (Luke:6:32). When the love of Jesus fills our hearts it is so great that we will not speak harsh words, we will not discriminate against the poor, nor fawn for the favour of the rich. When some of that spirit begins to creep in, we must pray to God and ask Him to cover us afresh with His Blood, and put more of His love into our hearts. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John:13:35).

    Questions: 

    1. Why do you think Joseph's brothers were so troubled when they found the money in their sacks?
    2. What did Joseph do to make the brothers feel welcome when they came again to buy corn?
    3. What effect did Judah's supplication have upon Joseph?
    4 Did Joseph show a spirit of forgiveness toward his brothers?
    5. How had Joseph saved the lives of his brothers?