Title: Famine and the Family
Scriptures: Genesis 42:1-43:15
Speaker: Bauer Evans
Date: February 26, 2017
Introduction: Reunions of family, friends, or classmates can be times of incredible joy and celebration. Not so the reunion of Joseph and his brothers. It was unexpected, but in the providence of God, purposeful in its timing We come to a climactic turning point event in our story. This is the first installment of a much larger unit that stretches through chapter 45.
Main Point: God brings about true transformation in us in order to accomplish our salvation and His glory.
The Story: In vs. 1-5, we are reintroduced to Joseph’s family, twenty years after he had been sold into slavery. A famine engulfed “all the earth” (41:57), therefore Jacob commands his sons to go to Egypt to purchase grain. Beginning in vs. 6, we read of the unexpected meeting between Joseph, now a governor in Egypt, and his brothers. They do not recognize him, but Joseph recognizes them. This is the moment God had foretold in Joseph’s dream: “And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” (Gen. 37:7). When his brothers first heard Joseph’s dream, they were filled with hatred. Now, they bow before this powerful Egyptian governor. When Joseph accuses them of being spies, their response is dubious: “we are honest men.” Joseph puts them to the test, (vv.12-38) to determine whether they have changed from twenty years before when they sold him into slavery. Have they learned to love one another as brothers, or do they still hate? Do the unloving actions of their past continue to characterize their lives in the present? Even their father, Jacob, is skeptical of them, for when Judah asks him to send Benjamin with him in order to retrieve Simeon from Egypt, Jacob is fearful harm will come of it and demurs. Yet it is Judah, not Reuben the oldest son, whose returns with Benjamin to Egypt, and unknowingly, takes his first steps towards reconciliation with Joseph (43:1-15). Why did God preserve this passage for us? What are we learn about His gracious purposes through Christ in our lives today? And how might we cooperate with Him?
God has not left our salvation to chance: Throughout the story of this family, we see God’s perfect providence at work both in rescuing them from famine, but also from themselves. He had promised to Abraham to redeem His descendants that one day they would be a nation through which God’s blessing of salvation would come to other nations. Unknowingly to them, God is at work in them and in their circumstances in order to bring them into a deeper relationship with Himself by faith, and to truly transform their lives in order to reconcile their relationships with each other.
We are reminded that it is God who saves sinners because we cannot save ourselves: The covenant family is a sinful family too. And their actions left to themselves would destroy this family and thwart His purposes. But God’s gracious plan cannot be thwarted, and His actions towards them are not earned or deserved. Quite the contrary, He continues to work in them and fulfill His purposes through them, and also reconcile them to each other – all because of God’s grace alone.
If God can redeem Joseph’s family, He can redeem us through faith in the gospel: In fact, for the Christian, God in Christ is with us today, working in us His gracious purposes to perform. Pray, asking Him to reveal what He is doing. Be patient with the process and pursue wisdom from others, that you might discern His work. Turn it all towards praise to God knowing He is bringing about true transformation in our lives in order to complete our sanctification and His glory.