A Sovereignly Sent Savior! Genesis 45 12/22/19
What a great joy for us, like the shepherds of old, to glorify and praise God for our Savior who is Christ the Lord!
Would you please turn with me in your Bible to Genesis 45 as we prepare to delve into our text?
If someone was to ask you during the Christmas holidays, “Tell me in one sentence, what as the point of Christ being born 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem”, what would you say?
There are lots of truths you could tell them.
Christ came to fulfill prophecies, heal the sick, feed the hungry, and destroy the works of the devil.
All of those are wonderfully true. Yet the heart of the incarnation, God becoming man, is this.
God sent Christ to save lost sinners.
John 3:17 puts it this way: “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
Friends, God’s plan to save wasn’t an afterthought. He planned that even “before the foundation of the world.”
So, we can summarize the heart or what we celebrate today like this:
God’s sovereign sending of a Savior for sinners like you and me!
Yes, Jesus was given by God as the greatest gift ever. For He was sent to seek and save lost sinners dying in their sins.
You see, that’s the love of God. And that’s what gives real and fresh hope to our hearts.
In God’s providential timing, we come in our continued study of Genesis to chapter 45.
And here’s what it showcases for us: a savior sovereignly sent to save!
For Joseph whom God sent to save the world of his day from physical death amazingly anticipates God sending Christ to save the world from spiritual death!
If you’ve been with us, you have seen the inspired intrigue in the narrative about Joseph.
His older half-brothers, so jealous of him, they sold him to slave traders heading down to Egypt. As a cover up, they then lie to their fathers telling him wild animals had killed Joseph
Fast forward several years, Joseph interprets the dreams of the Pharaoh of Egypt. And that catapults him into the position of Pharaoh’s highest ranking official, vizier of all Egypt!
Joseph stockpiles surplus grain for the 7 bountiful years he had seen in the vision. Then when the 7-year worldwide famine (41:27) hits, Joseph sells grain to people coming from near and far.
And that included 11 hungry young men that came from Canaan- the brothers of Joseph!
Joseph recognizes them, yet they have no idea the great Egyptian looking and speaking ruler before them is their brother!
We have witnessed how God so wonderfully used Joseph to bring those brothers to repentance.
They thought Joseph was long dead, and tried to just sweep that bad memory under the carpet!
Joseph accuses them of being slaves and holds Simeon hostage.
Those 10 frantic brothers get home and beg Jacob their father to let them take their youngest brother Benjamin back to Egypt with them.
That’s what Joseph demanded if Simeon was to be released and if they were to get more grain.
All seems to go with out a hitch on their second visit to Egypt- their sacks filled to the brim with grain, and they get Simeon back.
Yet no sooner do they get out of that city then Joseph’s steward catches them. And he seizes the silver cup he had planted in Benjamin’s sack
Those brothers could have died and shred their clothes in grief.
When they are hauled back before that mighty Egyptian official, they expect one of two things: death or slavery for life!
Then Judah, spokesman for the brothers, shows their heart of repentance:
Genesis 44:16 So Judah said, “What can we say to my lord? What can we speak? And how can we justify ourselves? God has found out the iniquity of your servants.”
In other words, we are fully guilty before God! Judah then pleads for mercy and begs Joseph not to keep Benjamin.
For he explains, (verse 33–34): “Now, therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers. 34 “For how shall I go up to my father if the lad is not with me—for fear that I see the evil that would overtake my father?”
Those brothers would not turn their backs on Benjamin as they had once done to Joseph. They pass the character test!
Here’s what’s fascinating. It’s now been over a year since those brothers first appeared before Joseph there in Egypt. Yet they are still totally in the dark that it is he! And they are filled with terror over what they think it coming.
Now we’ve reached the turning point. It’s the perfect time for 1. Disclosure 1-4
Let’s take it from the top of chapter 45. We are told, “Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried, “Have everyone go out from me.” So there was no man with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2 He wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard of it.
When it’s time to make things right, it’s best done in private. That’s why Joseph sends all his servants out of the room.
As soon as they are gone, Joseph totally breaks down. He weeps uncontrollably.
His sobbing is so loud that all his servants in the house hear it. And Egyptians even outside his house hear it too!
They must have been thinking, “What’s going on in that meeting of our great master with those strange Hebrew men?”
Yet, these were tears of great emotion and joy.
And the 11 brothers are stunned. “Why is this great Egyptian official sobbing in our presence?
O this emotion-packed response of Joseph reminds us of another man described by “loud crying and tears.” Heb. 5:7 That’s our Lord Jesus Christ!
By the way, about Joseph’s tears here. If you count them up, it’s the 3rd of 6 times he weeps
over his brothers (42:24; 43:30; 45:14; 50:17; 50:1).
This show us something very important- Joseph’s tender heart and how he longs to be reconciled with his brothers and family! He gains composure and manages to speak to them.
Verse 3: Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence.
Here we come face to face with one of the most dramatic moments of recognition in biblical history.
Now for the first time, Joseph speaks to them in Hebrew. And they are speechless.
For it’s one thing to stand before a powerful ruler for a stolen cup. It’s quite another to be guilty of selling him into slavery!
We are told they were “dismayed” at his presence. That original term (bahal) suggests the brothers were so afraid they were trembling.
The same word is used in Judges 20:41 to describe soldiers surrounded by an enemy and paralyzed by fear.
The terrified brothers can’t believe their ears.
Picture them cowering and taking steps away from this ruler for fear of what he will do to them.
Yet look at Joseph’s next move.
Verse 4: Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me.” And they came closer. And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.
As they draw nearer to him, they see more deeply into the eyes of the brother they had abandoned years ago.
They hear his more familiar voice tell them now in Hebrew, “Aniy yosep ahi ykem.”
“I am your brother, Joseph.” Remember me, the one you sold into slavery?
“Could it be true? Our little brother we thought was dead for all these years because of the evil we had done stands here before us?”
Now they know this great mystery ruler is their brother Joseph. Yes, it is him! He’s alive!
And from his disclosure they come to see the great
2. Design 5-9
It was all so overwhelming. Like waking up from an awful dream to a new day.
Yet those brothers feel the torrent of pain and deep regret for their past. That’s why Joseph tells them, 5th verse: “Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here…
O what calming words for those agitated brothers: “Don’t let the memory of what you did tear you up. Don’t keep kicking yourself for what you’ve done!”
But Joseph doesn’t sugarcoat their sin. He says it like it is. “You sold me here!” It was SO evil; they traded him, their own brother, for 20 pieces of silver. Similarly, our Lord Jesus, was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Mat. 26:15).
But Joseph doesn’t mention their sin to rub their faces in the dirt.
It’s to show them what they didn’t see: the divine design!
Watch his incredible words which show why they should not grieve even though they sold him there: “for God sent me before you to preserve life.”
O what spectacular recognition of the sovereignty of God!
Joseph knows one thing so clearly: God used their evil to get him down to Egypt so he could save them from death. Really?
Really? Was their situation in Canaan really life-threatening? Look on. The sixth verse clarifies: “For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting.
If we add up the years, that shows us Joseph sold into slavery at 17 (37:2) and who began to rule as prime minister of Egypt at 30 (41:46) is now 39 years old.
This also tell us there will still be 5 more years of worldwide famine (41:56-57). No plowing and no harvesting means what? No eating…and no living!
You see, if you don’t have someone who has stored up an awful lot of food rations, you have no hopes of making it through a famine.
Down in the church basement, there’s a small container of food rations. A dear brother gave it to us. Well, if things get real bad and there’s no food to buy, you know where to come… at least for a snack!
But Joseph had stockpiled tons of grain during the 7 bountiful years that preceded the famine. It’s abundance was like the sand of the sea (41:49). So fascinating, historians have discovered that ancient Egypt had facilities for grain storage. Some in Thebes reached 50’ tall and 10’ wide and resembled modern grain silos in the Midwest. But Joseph doesn’t credit himself for the plan. He explains, verse 7: “God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance.”
Joseph stresses it wasn’t what he or his brothers had done but ultimately what God had done. God sent Joseph to save them from certain death!
Did you notice Joseph’s well-chosen words that magnify the magnitude of the miracle?
He said God through Him God brought about a “great deliverance.” How great was it?
Well, it’s the greatness of what God promised in the Abrahamic Covenant.
The preserved remnant ties right back to God’s promise of Gen. 12. He would make a great nation through Abraham.
Do you see how God faithfully kept His Word? For He wonderfully uses Joseph (Abraham’s great grandson) to save the Jewish race from extinction.
For Jacob and his family there in Canaan were spared from death by the grain they were given in Egypt (by none other than Joseph!)
Here’s the second part of the great deliverance. Already here in chapter 45 we see how through Abraham’s descendant, all the nations of the earth are being blessed” just as God promised him.
Friends, God made Joseph to be the savior not only of the Jacob’s family but of the world. Not from sin but from starvation!
For there’s no record in the Bible of any greater number of people ever saved from death than by Joseph.
And you, Christian, know to whom Joseph’s life spectacularly points. To Christ our Savior!
For Galatians 4:4 tells us, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman….”
Born to save us from our sin and its consequence: eternal death!
Here’s the connection I want you to see between Joseph and Jesus.
Both were sent.
Both were sent to save.
Both were sovereignly sent to save.
And here’s what I love. Both Joseph and Jesus realized that! They knew they were sovereignly sent to save!
In fact, Jesus possessed the driving awareness that His Father had sent Him on a mission to planet earth.
Jesus told His disciples in John 4:34, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.”
Then to unbelieving Jews in Jerusalem’s temple Christ said, ““You both know Me and know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. 29 “I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent Me.” John 7:28-29
If you count them up in John’s gospel, 40 times we read that Jesus was sent by God.
Yes, He was sovereignly sent to save sinners!
That beloved gives us the heart of Christmas, the real reason for the sinner’s hope.
God sovereignly sent His Son to save sinners like you and me!
And 2,000 years before, the life of Joseph pictures and anticipates the great deliverer Jesus being sent to save.
Look back now at our text to see how Joseph highlights God’s sovereign hand in his being sent to Egypt. Verse 8:
“Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.
Those fearful brothers were stunned to hear those words. They knew what they had done. They are guilty.
But Joseph tells them again, “You didn’t send me here to Egypt, God, the powerful Elohim did!
And with that God gave Jospeh 3 spectacular honors that fit into His saving plan. He elevated him as:
1.”Father to Pharaoh”- that was the official title given to the one who was prime minister (vizier) of all Egypt. Joseph advised Pharaoh as a father would a son.
By the way, historical records suggest this was a new Pharaoh who reigned in Egypt, Senusret III (fifth pharaoh of the 12th Dynasty of Egypt). 2. “Lord of all his household”- Joseph had beeen given oversight of Pharaoh’s home including all his servants! 3. Joseph ruled over the entire nation of Egypt. With the Pharaoh’s signet ring, he could authorize any decision he chose. All that, Joseph knew flowed from the sovereign choice of God for him to be sold 22 years before into slavery! Beloved, this tells us God loves to use bad things of our lives to accomplish His best! Yes, God directs the maze of human sin and guilt to accomplish His purposes.”
Think about Christ being “born of a virgin.” Because of that, he was mocked by the Jews for being illegitimate (John 8:41).
And Christ’s death at the hands of evil men. Who planned that awful deed?
Peter preaching at Pentecost declared of Christ (Acts 2:23): “this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.”
In other words, wicked sinners pounded nails through Christ’s hands and feet to kill him on the cross. Yet glory to God, in so doing they accomplished the perfect plan of God.
Spurgeon affirmed: “Man rules, but God overrules!”
Listen, you will never enjoy the fulness of salvation until you grasp how God used man’s evil to put Christ to death for your redemption.
And Christian, think about your own testimony. For most of us, God used our sins to show us our crisis and bring us to Himself!
Now God’s sovereignty in Joseph’s life went beyond him being used to save his brothers and the world.
I’m convinced that confidence in God sovereign control is what brought Joseph through being hated, made a slave, thrown into prison. All that he came through with flying colors. He shows forgiveness, not bitterness, love not hatred! And he enjoys joy not gloom. In fact, clinging to God’s sovereignty explains the joy and optimism of Joseph.
“It was not you who sent me here, but God!”
Joseph possessed deep down confidence that God providentially orchestrated all that. And therefore he’s not up in arms!
Men, women and children. The same goes for you. If you live conscious of God orchestrating every event of your life, the good and the bad, you too will live with amazing joy and peace.
Basking in God’s overriding sovereignty will liberate you from needless discouragement, depression and despair.
It will spare you from replaying in your mind situations time after time and saying, “If only I hadn’t…” (and you fill in the blank).
Yes, actively affirming God’s providential control of all will set you free to sing like the little bird that has no worries.
Former seminary prof Thomas Constable puts it so well: “Happy is the man whose eye is open to see the hand of God in every-day events, for to him life always possesses a wonderful and true joy and glory.”
You get in hot water at work.
You take a financial hit.
You face disappointments in marriage or
Your friends let you down.
Listen, clinging to God’s sovereign rule over all is more than enough to bring you through with joy.
For to belong to a God whose sovereignty rules over all (Ps. 103:19) means that we can say with full conviction: Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
O I pray you and I will learn to relate EVERYTHING in our lives, the good, the bad, and the awful to God’s sovereign control.
– In the midst of all the joys of Christmas and in the face of all the challenges that await you in 2020.
– When everything seems to hit the fan and you’re ready to throw in the towel. Even when people hurt you deeply, remember this, Christian:
God is the pilot at the helm of your life. And you can trust Him to bring you through every storm AND accomplish His good plan!
Look at how that came about for Joseph and his brothers.
3. Dwelling 9-15
Joseph now tells his shocked brothers (v. 9): “Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, “God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay.
Joseph loves his brothers and his father Jacob. He can’t wait to be reunited with them. And he’s got it all planned out:
10 “You shall live in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children and your flocks and your herds and all that you have. 11 “There I will also provide for you, for there are still five years of famine to come, and you and your household and all that you have would be impoverished.”
Joseph had the perfect opportunity for revenge. He could have made life extremely difficult for his brothers who had hurt him so deeply.
Instead he shows them amazing kindness.
Goshen was a fertile area in NE Egypt. It was the perfect haven Joseph reserved for those brothers with their families to flourish during the famine.
There they could raise their flocks away from city dwellers who disliked Hebrews. Yet they would be relatively close to Joseph.
O what a heart of forgiveness and kindness Joseph has shown these who had hurt him.
A family named the Parsons preached and practiced kindness in their little town.
One day, just to be mean, a girl named Josephine and several of her third grade friends put a handful of pencil shavings in the Parsons girl’s sandwich.
They wanted to see her get mad, but she didn’t .
Instead, the next day, the Parsons girl brought everyone in her class a large hand-decorated cookie which said, “Jesus loves you.”
That’s the spirit of what Christ was driving at when he said, “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” Luke 6:27
And that’s what Joseph showed those 11 brothers.
Yet they are still in shock. Is this for real? That’s why Joseph tells them, verse 12:
“Behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth which is speaking to you.
In other words, guys, it’s really me, Joseph, your brother who is talking with you.
As their hearts are pounding with joy mixed with disbelief Joseph gives them important instructions. Verse 13: “Now you must tell my father of all my splendor in Egypt, and all that you have seen; and you must hurry and bring my father down here.”
Why does Joseph want them to tell Jacob their father about his splendor (kabod- abundance, riches, honor)?
Is he flaunting his position? No, he’s already instructed them (v. 9) to say to Jacob, “God has made me lord of all Egypt.”
He wants to assure Jacob he has the ability to provide for the entire family there in Egypt. And he wants them to come quickly!
As Joseph talks with his brothers, oceans of emotions flood his heart. 14th verse: “Then he fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. 15 He kissed all his brothers and wept on them, and afterward his brothers talked with him.”
Joseph, like his brothers, wasn’t a big cry baby. He had grown up as a shepherd, served as a slave, and been 2 years in prison.
But he can’t hold back his tears of joy in this reconciliation.
The hearts of those brothers are melted by His love. The hatred and jealousy are gone. The barriers are finally down!
And for the first time in over 2 decades they rejoice together in what God had done in reuniting them!
Well, good news spreads fast. Follow now with me how this great reunion brought great
4. Delight 16-20
Continuing in the 16th verse we read: “Now when the news was heard in Pharaoh’s house that Joseph’s brothers had come, it pleased Pharaoh and his servants. 17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Say to your brothers, ‘Do this: load your beasts and go to the land of Canaan, 18 and take your father and your households and come to me, and I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you will eat the fat of the land.’ 19 “Now you are ordered, ‘Do this: take wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives, and bring your father and come.
Bear in mind who is talking. It’s Pharaoh (Senusret III) of Egypt, the most powerful man in the world of his day!
His directives are for Joseph’s brothers to return to Canaan. Not because they are spies but to bring their entire family back. Back to Egypt to enjoy royal gift- the best of the land!
And Pharaoh provides wagons (4-wheeled carts) for them which were not yet used in Canaan. That would have been like visitors in 11 Rolls Royce’s pulling into our church parking lot.
How can we explain such exceptionally generous gifts from the Pharaoh? It’s because Joseph had been God’s instrument of so much good to him and Egypt.
And so practically in verse 20, the Pharaoh adds: ‘Do not concern yourselves with your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.’ ”
Why not hassle with packing and hauling all your stuff from Canaan? Your favorite household furnishings, pottery vessels, and tools. Because
there is something far better awaiting you in Egypt. The best of the land is theirs!
Friends, our accumulated stuff can get in the way of God’s will. There’s a distraction factor.
So even in the midst of exchanging gifts this week, don’t lose sight of your greatest treasure- Jesus Christ. For God has given you the best of all in Him!
Joseph’s disclosure, God’s design, the brothers’ dwelling, Pharaoh’s delight all crescendo in
5. Dream Come True 21-28
It must have all seemed surreal as the brothers return for their father. We read (cont. in v. 21):
Then the sons of Israel did so; and Joseph gave them wagons according to the command of Pharaoh, and gave them provisions for the journey. 22 To each of them he gave changes of garments, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of garments.
Joseph wholeheartedly carried out the orders of Pharaoh. Why changes of garments? Well, for one thing, they had just the other day torn their robes out of grief!
Yet these clothes were likely garments of distinction, festal apparel all gracious gifts from Joseph. And Joseph shows the soft spot in his heart for his younger brother Benjamin by giving him extra garments along with the silver.
Joseph has thought of everything. Verse 23 To his father he sent as follows: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and sustenance for his father on the journey.
The final instructions Joseph gives for their journey forestall any fussing and feuding. V. 24:
So he sent his brothers away, and as they departed, he said to them, “Do not quarrel on the journey.”
Off they head to Canaan with an amazing story to tell. You can be sure, they had some explaining to do!
25 Then they went up from Egypt, and came to the land of Canaan to their father Jacob. 26 They told him, saying, “Joseph is still alive, and indeed he is ruler over all the land of
Egypt.” “But he was stunned, for he did not believe them.”
It seems impossible that Joseph was living and refuses to believe.
That sounds just like the disciples after the women told them that Christ is alive, having risen from the dead. They would not believe them! Luke 24:10-11
Jacob was never the exemplar of faith. He can’t fathom how Joseph could be alive. And he can’t imagine how Joseph could be ruler over all Egypt.
Well, that all changed v. 27 “When they told him all the words of Joseph that he had spoken to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28 Then Israel said, “It is enough; my son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”
What a dramatic change took place in Jacob when he realized Joseph was alive! Just like the disciples when the realized Jesus was alive!
O this spells hope for Jacob and his family.
And this story spells hope for you and all mankind.
For the Christ born in Bethlehem, crucified on Golgotha, risen from the grave is alive!
So wonderfully, Joseph’s life points to Christ who was sent by God to be born in this world, rejected by his brethren and bring salvation.
And it all comes down to this: God’s sovereign sending of Christ the Savior calls for a response.
Christ summarizes it in one sentence. John 6:29, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
Gracious God and heavenly Father…