Joseph: 10 Brothers Visit Egypt
Joseph: God meant it for good
Joseph: God meant it for good
Recap: Joseph is a faithful shepherd and son, but hated by his brother’s. At 17 years old he’s sold into slavery. His father is told he has died after being attacked by a wild animal. He then serves faithfully as a slave in Egypt only to be falsely accused sexual assault against an Egyptian noblewoman. He’s thrown in prison with no hope of release or escape.
Last week: Joseph successfully interprets Pharaoh’s dreams AND (by the power of the Holy Spirit) tells him how he should prepare for and survive the coming famine. Joseph is made the 2nd most powerful person in all of Egypt and is specifically charged with preparing Egypt for the famine.
16 Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”
The time in between then and Today’s text (the rest of Chapter 41):
Joseph is put in charge of Egypts Famine Relief Effforts when he’s 30 years old. 7 years of plenty come before the famine begins. He collects a tax of 20% of all grain and non-perishable resources. Those 7 years of plenty come to an end and the famine has set in all across the Ancient Near East. By this time all the surrounding nations/peoples have used up their reserves and have now recieved word that in this world of famine and want, Egypt has grain. It would have taken at least a year or two for famine to set in and for the people to use up their reserves we can safely assume we’re into year 2-3 of the years of want. Joseph is now 38-40 years old.
He was 17 when he was sold into slavery. He’s now closing in on 40. I’ll be 37 this year. I can barely remener what life was like when I was 17. I remember episodes/bits and pieces, but I don’t rememeber what it was like to live day to day as a 17 year old.
When I was 17, the St. Louis Rams won the Superbowl. In 2019 the Los Angeles Rams lost the supberbowl. A lot happens in 20 years.
Kids I didn’t even know Ms. Beth in the year 2000.
The same has happened for Joseph. He’s grown up. He’s Vice President of Egypt. He’s now married. Has a couple of kids.
In the back of his mind are these dreams he had when he was 17 years old. Back then he understood the dreams he had to mean that his brothers would bow down before him. And he’s gained a pretty good track record of interpreting dreams. He’s 4 for 4. So you have to wonder, what’s does Joseph think when he remembers those dreams he had of his brothers bowing down to him when he was 17? Was his interpretation wrong? Did he even still believe the could come to pass? I don’t know.
Let jump into to our text for this morning.
if you have a bible please turn in your to
1 When Jacob learned that there was grain for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you look at one another?” 2 And he said, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain for sale in Egypt. Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.” 3 So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. 4 But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with his brothers, for he feared that harm might happen to him. 5 Thus the sons of Israel came to buy among the others who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan. 6 Now Joseph was governor over the land. He was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground.
Movement of the Spirit
Ears to Hear
to be used by the Spirit
The dream, more accurately the vision, Joseph had as a boy, when he was 17 years old. Here he is in Egypt of (all places!!!)
When Joseph was 17, God revealed just enough truth for Joseph’s give God glory. To give him hope? to Convince him to keep preseing forward in hard times?
No I think God gave Joseph just enough information for Joseph to recognize God’s providence in his life. Joseph was given enough information so that when he looked back on his life, he would realize a Great and Glorious God was at working, in all things, to bring good the people of God and glory to Himself.
So here in Egypt, when Joseph is sitting on top of the world. Everyone is coming to him asking for help. His brothers, the lazy shepherds who sold him into slavery. walk up into his court, bow down before him, begging him for grain.
What would you do in this situation? Call the guards? Revenge?
If Joseph didn’t have this vision to look back on, would he have acted any differently?
Because of the visions God gave him, instead of being self righteous and vindictive, Joseph is humbled by the work God has done in his life to make the visions he had a reality.
What an incredible story!!!!! Would anyone else understand? Even if they did, would anyone else believe you?
(aside: I think this is what the next few chapters deal with. Joseph has this incredible news about an all powerful loving God that transcends cultures and I believe he’s wrestling with how to tell his family about what this God has done - We wants to tell them all. He wants to see them all)
7 Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them. “Where do you come from?” he said. They said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.” 8 And Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. 9 And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed of them. And he said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see the nakedness of the land.”
What was Joseph’s first dream? - Sheaths of wheat bowing before his sheath of wheat.
This is not the end of the story!
It’s the 2nd dream that includes the moon and stars (his father and mother?). This is the fulfillment of 1 dream. This is not the end of the story!
So Joseph knows the dreams he had as a teenager are being fulfilled, and know he’s actively working to get his father and mother (through Benjamin) to come down to join him in Egypt… so he can reveal who he is and tell them about how God has been working to save them.
I believe that from this point on Joseph is doing everything possible to try and get as much of his family to come to Egypt as soon as possible w/ the plan to reveal who he is when they all get there. Here’s bit of spoiler, things don’t go as smoothly as Joseph plans.
Where do we find our selves in this story
We’ve said from the beginning that “We” are NOT Joseph. Joseph is given to us as a "type” of person pointing us to who Jesus (the messiah) would be like (but true and better). So in this story, if Joseph is Jesus, who represents us in this story?
We are Joseph’s brothers. We’re not the main character. We’re the murderous slave traders. Lazily content with just surviving. Joseph’s brothers are only Egypt, not because of their entrepreneurial spirit and are trying to build their network. They’re in Egypt because they’re hungry. Not really even that. They were hungry and their father said in 42:1, what are doing just sitting around looking at each other for: Go down to egypt!
I want us to look at this story through the lens of these 10 brothers.
These men find themselves in Egypt, confronted by true power for the very first time in their lives and they are being accused.
(only read 9-12, Summarize the rest)
9 And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed of them. And he said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see the nakedness of the land.” 10 They said to him, “No, my lord, your servants have come to buy food. 11 We are all sons of one man. We are honest men. Your servants have never been spies.” 12 He said to them, “No, it is the nakedness of the land that you have come to see.” 13 And they said, “We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan, and behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is no more.” 14 But Joseph said to them, “It is as I said to you. You are spies. 15 By this you shall be tested: by the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go from this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 Send one of you, and let him bring your brother, while you remain confined, that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you. Or else, by the life of Pharaoh, surely you are spies.” 17 And he put them all together in custody for three days.
The 10 brothers are not spies, but they are also not innocent by any means.
Joseph starts out saying all but 1 of you must stay here, to 3 days later saying only 1 of you must stay, but can be released if you return with your brother.
The brothers understood what they were experiencing as a result of what they had done to Joseph:
21 Then they said to one another, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us.” 22 And Reuben answered them, “Did I not tell you not to sin against the boy? But you did not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood.” 23 They did not know that Joseph understood them, for there was an interpreter between them. 24 Then he turned away from them and wept. And he returned to them and spoke to them. And he took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes.
21 Then they said to one another, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us.” 22 And Reuben answered them, “Did I not tell you not to sin against the boy? But you did not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood.” 23 They did not know that Joseph understood them, for there was an interpreter between them.
The brothers are in the presence of “ultimate” power for the first time in their lives. They stand accused. They bear the burden of guilt for what they’ve done to their brother.
The ruler who accuses them, sees them, hears them and weeps. He wants to gather, not just them but their entire family together. To reveal who he his, and be one family, all together once again.
But these 10 brothers are so overcome by their guilt, their shame, they could never imagine that this all powerful man standing before them is actually their brother, trying to work out a plan for their salvation.
Summarize the rest of the chapter:
Simeon is left behind in Egypt
Joseph’s servants pack up his brothers belongings, giving them extra provisions, even returning their money (providing above and beyond)
The brothers find the money and view the provision as a curse (“Their hearts failed them”)
They report back to their father all that has happened
Even Jacob was afraid - Tells them they will not return to Egypt
How are we like these 10 brothers?
We’re guilty of Sin ()
We stand accused before the ruler of the land God.
When we’re confronted by true power (God), we could never imagine that the God of the universe wants nothing more than to welcome us into his family.
God gives us a simple task, a “test”: repent
We don’t trust the goodness of God: “This offer is too good to be true”
We even view the provision of God as a curse or trick.
Most tragically, we’re willing to sacrifice relationships so that we can maintain the status quo rather than accept the invitation of royalty (Jacob leaving Simeon imprisoned, living in a famished land)
Thankfully the story doesn’t end here. We’ll continue the life of Joseph next week,
But also our story doesn’t end here. If you’re still breathing you still invited to join King Jesus in the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ invitation still stands.
Enter into time of response.