After famine ravages the land of Canaan, Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt in search of food. Unbeknownst to them, their younger brother stands before them as governor over a land he entered into as a slave. In fact, at the hands of his own brothers, he had been sold and forgotten after they lied to their father about his death. As the years went by, they watched their father age with relentless grief over the loss of his beloved son.
After Joseph’s supposed death, Jacob became overprotective of Benjamin, the only remaining son of his cherished wife, Rachel. The other ten were borne by Leah, Rachel’s sister, and each of their concubines. Although sons, Jacob considered them of lower status, igniting their jealousy against Joseph and his multi-coloured coat which represented their father’s favour.
After a full thirteen years in the land of Egypt, Joseph finally enters into his purpodestiny, that sweet spot where purpose meets destiny. For years, he had been walking in his purpose, though it did not appear that way to him, especially in the dungeons of Egypt. But God, in His providence, was preparing Joseph for greater things.
Slowly the purpose and plan of God was beginning to unfold, not only for Joseph, but for a multitude of people. Props in place, the scene opens with Joseph’s brothers bowing before him, just as they did long ago in the young boy’s dream.
In a strange twist of events, the tables are turned and now Joseph contrives a story against them, not to betray them but to test their hearts. Wanting to know if Benjamin had met the same fate as he did, Joseph uses an interpreter to ask the men if they have another brother. Joseph goes unrecognized because having left his father’s house as a teenager, he is now a man, clean-shaven, unlike his brothers of Hebrew descent and dressed like royalty. Never in a million years would they suspect their brother would be on the throne of the most powerful nation on earth, so even if there was the slightest resemblance to the brother they once knew, they would have passed it off as a crazy notion.
Ironically, Joseph commands the brothers to leave one of their own behind while they return to Canaan to persuade their father to surrender Benjamin as a ransom. But Jacob is hard-fisted until circumstances force his hand and heart to release his son.
The second trip to Egypt is far more pleasant as the brothers receive an invitation to feast at the Governor’s House. Never pondering why this good fortune has come upon them, the brothers eat and are merry for the time being, until on their way home they find for the second time their money has been returned along with the provision of food. Once again they are haunted by their past and they inadvertently accuse God of playing games with them and punishing them for their sins. But instead of playing games, God is interested in the condition of their hearts, as is their brother Joseph.
Shortly after their departure, the men are overtaken by Pharoah’s men and arrested for possession of a silver cup, which Joseph planted in Benjamin’s sack. To their horror, Joseph demands their youngest brother be kept in Egypt as a slave while they are released to return to their father. Prophetically, Judah makes a plea to the Governor to take his life as a ransom for his brother; it would be nearly 4000 years later out of Judah’s line that Jesus came to ransom us.
Now every man’s heart has been laid bare and the brothers have no choice but to confront their past. But instead, like the prodigal son returning home with the hope of becoming a slave in his father’s house, the grace of God comes in like a knight in shining armour to rescue them.
Instead of anger and revenge, Joseph reveals his heart of forgiveness toward his brothers and embraces them. He adorns them with love and though they are uncertain of their demise, he assures them their debt is paid in full. He even exhorts them not to be grieved or angry with themselves that they sold him into slavery, “for God sent me before you to preserve life.”
Sadly, their brothers never quite received all of the grace God poured out that day, as they continued to worry that one day Joseph might have a change of heart. But Joseph saw the bigger picture. He understood that everything he had been through was not in vain. In fact, God meant it for good, that many lives might be saved. Charles Ryrie said it well – “Joseph gave clear testimony to God’s providential overruling in his life.”
If Joseph had not been through what he had been through, he would not have been in a position to be used by God. Had he remained safe in his father’s house, he would have been in the wrong place at the right time. If his brothers had not committed this crime against him, he would not have fulfilled the dream God gave him as a boy. Joseph’s destiny was not held up, but accelerated by his misfortunes.
If only we could see that for ourselves. That everything we go through has a place and a purpose in our lives for a greater good. People may have done you wrong or committed vile offenses against you – even the unthinkable – but God knew from before the beginning of time the plan that would unfold for each and every person’s life here on earth, including yours. To think that He can take something horrific and turn it around for our good and His glory is beyond understanding, yet He does it every single day.
Many people would not have a ministry or a purpose in life if they had not been through what they’ve been through. Richness and depth of purpose are born out of pain and suffering, if you allow it to be seasoned in God’s love. The only catch is that during your in-between time, you must not become bitter, but trust that God has a greater plan in all of this.
Joseph could have sworn to God that he would take revenge if he ever laid eyes on his brothers again. No one would have blamed him for feeling that way. But God demands a change of heart in each one of us, whether you are the victim or the offender. In truth, we are all offenders anyway. The sooner we get that, the sooner we can forgive those who have offended us instead of holding them by the throat until justice is done.
If you desire to walk in your destiny, transformation is inevitable. Change starts with you. Then you cannot help but transform the world around you. Notice Joseph’s love for his brothers was the determining factor in the story. Had he not loved them, his destiny and the destiny of those around him would have been unfulfilled.
Are you where you are because of what someone else has done to you? Have you forgiven whoever you need to forgive in order to move forward? Lastly, have you forgiven and released yourself from carrying the weight of the past on your shoulders? Know that whatever you’ve been through, no matter who has done what to you or against you, though it was meant for evil, God meant it for good, that many lives might be saved. Share your story to help others and allow God to complete His story in and through you.