Genesis
1-3 Joseph Makes Himself Known 4-15 Joseph Opens His Heart 16-24 Pharaoh Commands to Bring Jacob 25-28 Joseph Is Still Alive!
Joseph Makes Himself Known

1Then 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. 2He wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard [it], and the household of Pharaoh heard [of it]. 3Then 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.

Judah concluded his moving speech without any interruption from Joseph’s side. Then the time has come for Joseph for which he waited so long. After the striking proof of God’s work of grace in the hearts of the brothers that came out of Judah’s mouth, Joseph can no longer control himself and makes himself known to his brothers.

Nothing but his announcement to them can satisfy his heart. He wants them to know him. He wants conscious fellowship with them based on the just-proven work of grace. Nothing else can also give rest to the hearts of the brothers.

This is also the way in which God acts with the sinner and to which He wants to lead him: that the Lord Jesus can make Himself known to him. This is also the way in which God deals with His own: He wants them to see none but Jesus alone (Mt 17:6-86When the disciples heard [this], they fell face down to the ground and were terrified.7And Jesus came to [them] and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.”8And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.). This is an announcement for each soul individually. No one else can be present when that happens.

Again we read that Joseph weeps, even weeps loudly, so everyone hears it. The outcome of the work that has been done in the brothers by the wisdom with which he has treated them, does not leave him unmoved. He is deeply involved in this work. When he then sees what the effect is, he lets his emotions run free. We can be sure that this is an example of the Lord Jesus’ involvement in every work of conversion and repentance in a human being, whether unbelieving or believing.

The announcement is so far-reaching for the brothers that they are dismayed. Similarly, the Lord Jesus reveals Himself to Saul, to whom He says, “I am Jesus.” Saul is also overwhelmed there and thrown to the ground by the realization that the One Whom he has declared dead, still lives (Acts 9:4-54and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”5And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He [said], “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting,).


Joseph Opens His Heart

4Then 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. 5Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6For 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. 7God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. 8Now, 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. 9Hurry 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. 10You 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. 11There 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.” ’ 12Behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin [see], that it is my mouth which is speaking to you. 13Now 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.” 14Then he fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. 15He kissed all his brothers and wept on them, and afterward his brothers talked with him.

The announcement “I am Joseph” fills the brothers’ hearts with fear and trembling. Here they see their brother, who they thought was dead, whom they hated, rejected and basically murdered. He does not live alone, but he is lord over everything. Here too he is a picture of the Lord Jesus (Heb 2:88You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.).

Joseph opens his heart in goodness and love for the brothers. He tells them that their evil deeds have led him to that place! Their rejection has been the means to give him that position. God has so governed it. There is no vengefulness at all with him.

The certainty that the will of God, not of mankind, governs everything, will keep us from vengefulness or bitterness and, on the contrary, will make us ready for reconciliation. The spiritual man can recognize the hand of God in all events and is therefore able to forgive him who wrongs him.

That in no way reduces the evil they have done. But “the LORD is greater than all the gods; indeed, it was proven when they dealt proudly against the people” (Exo 18:1111Now I know that the LORD is greater than all the gods; indeed, it was proven when they dealt proudly against the people.”). God has used what man meant to be evil for good. This is also the case with the Lord Jesus, Who was delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God on the one hand and killed by the hands of murderers on the other (Acts 2:2323this [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.).

Here we see what will remain a mystery for man forever. On the one hand we see the responsibility of the human being, which can and will be fully charged to him. On the other hand, we see the counsel of God, in which He gives a place to what man does in evil, without declaring man less accountable to it.

The joy that fills Joseph’s heart is the joy of the shepherd who has found his lost sheep (Lk 15:66And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’). The brothers were given the joyful task of going to get their father and telling him “of all my splendor in Egypt, and all that you have seen”. That is also a task for us: to tell God the Father all we have seen of the glory of the Lord Jesus.

Joseph rewards his brothers good for evil (Mt 5:4444But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,). He takes care of them and their families for the remaining five years of famine. Above all, they may be close to him.

Joseph points out that they see and hear him. They did not see and hear a vengeful brother, but one who showers them with blessings and promises them many more. He does everything to take away their fear. Their eyes see his glory, their ears hear his promises, their hearts feel his warm love when he falls around their necks and kisses them warmly. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear” (1Jn 4:18a18There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.). Of his former hardness nothing is noticeable anymore.

When they are so overwhelmed by all his proofs of love and goodness, their tongues come loose. That’s how it works with us. A heart overwhelmed by the love of the Lord Jesus cannot remain silent. Where the heart is full, the mouth of it runs over, both toward God to honor Him and toward the people to tell them what He has done to our souls.


Pharaoh Commands to Bring Jacob

16Now when the news was heard in Pharaoh’s house that Joseph’s brothers had come, it pleased Pharaoh and his servants. 17Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Say to your brothers, ‘Do this: load your beasts and go to the land of Canaan, 18and 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.’ 19Now 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. 20Do not concern yourselves with your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.’” 21Then the sons of Israel did so; and Joseph gave them wagons according to the command of Pharaoh, and gave them provisions for the journey. 22To each of them he gave changes of garments, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred [pieces of] silver and five changes of garments. 23To 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. 24So he sent his brothers away, and as they departed, he said to them, “Do not quarrel on the journey.”

To be with Joseph, everything must be given up. They don’t have to regret that (verse 2020Do not concern yourselves with your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.’”). It is said by Pharaoh, who is a picture of God here, that he will give them the best of the land of Egypt. Earlier they came to Joseph with a bit of the best of the land of Canaan (Gen 43:1111Then their father Israel said to them, “If [it must be] so, then do this: take some of the best products of the land in your bags, and carry down to the man as a present, a little balm and a little honey, aromatic gum and myrrh, pistachio nuts and almonds.), but through Joseph they get the best of Egypt. With such a promise the Lord Jesus has encouraged His disciples and with it He also encourages us (Mk 10:29-3029Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake,30but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.).

They don’t just get a land. Joseph, a picture of the Lord Jesus, also gives them everything they need to get there. Wagons, on which they can drive, can be seen as a picture of the Holy Spirit Who gives the believers power and guidance on the journey; they do not have to go by their own power. Food can be seen as a picture of the Word of God that the believers may eat and that gives them strength for the journey. Clothes can be seen as a picture of Christ with whom the believers are clothed and Who through them becomes visible in the world (Gal 3:2727For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.).

Thus the brothers are sent away by Joseph, with the final admonition: “Do not quarrel on the journey.” It is very easy for them to blame each other during the journey, when they discuss their experiences with each other, about their performance in their entire treatment of Joseph. One may point out that he said it in advance (Gen 42:2222Reuben answered them, saying, “Did I not tell you, ‘Do not sin against the boy’; and you would not listen? Now comes the reckoning for his blood.”), another may say that he did not throw Joseph himself into the well and so on. But Joseph has forgiven them all, so they should not blame each other.

We too desperately need the exhortation not to quarrel. Despite everything the Lord Jesus has given us, we all forget that exhortation so every now and then. The disciples also quarreled once about who is the most important one and that, while the Lord Jesus is busy with His suffering and talking about it with them (Lk 22:2424And there arose also a dispute among them [as to] which one of them was regarded to be greatest.).


Joseph Is Still Alive!

25Then they went up from Egypt, and came to the land of Canaan to their father Jacob. 26They 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. 27When 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. 28Then Israel said, “It is enough; my son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”

When Jacob sees his son’s blood-baptized tunic, there is no doubt in his mind: his son has been torn apart by a wild animal (Gen 37:3333Then he examined it and said, “It is my son’s tunic. A wild beast has devoured him; Joseph has surely been torn to pieces!”). Now that he is told that Joseph is still alive, he does not believe it. We believe bad news rather than good news, we believe the lie rather than the truth. Only through the work of grace do we believe the truth.

Jacob’s “was stunned” or “his heart grew numb” – which is the literal translation – when his sons tell him that Joseph is still alive. Life comes back to him after they have “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”. In this we can see a picture of the living power of the Word of God (the words of Joseph) and the Holy Spirit (the wagons that Joseph sent).

Now Jacob is called Israel, for his power of mind is coming back. Jacob does not speak of Joseph’s glory, but of the fact that he is still alive. That’s enough, that’s what it’s all about. The only thing he wants is to see him. After that, he can die peacefully.

The Lord Jesus has said that only when someone is born again, born of water and Spirit, can he see and enter the kingdom of God (Jn 3:3,53Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”5Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.). Water is a picture of the Word of God (Eph 5:2626so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,). This means that only the Word of God, under the activity of the Holy Spirit, is capable of creating new life. That is, in the picture, what revives Jacob’s numb heart.

When our hearts are numb, new life only comes when we start reading God’s Word again. In it we hear the words of the true Joseph, the Lord Jesus. Through the Holy Spirit, Who dwells in us, these words start to live for us.


Read more