"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

GENESIS – An Expositional Overview of the Beginning of God’s Revelation: Chapter FORTYFIVE

Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez and James Fire

GENESIS 45 – by James Fire; for the Facebook video of this teaching, go here.
INTRODUCTION: Joseph was betrayed not by enemies, or strangers, or distant relations, but by his own brothers – step-brothers but brothers, nonetheless. They sold him into slavery. Not only did they betray him, but in doing this, and lying to their father about the entire matter, they betrayed him as well! 
That wounding without a doubt stayed with Joseph for many, many years – an open wound whose pain was a daily reminder every morning when he woke up and realized once again he was a stranger (and a slave, and a prisoner) in a strange land. Gradually, over the course of time, the sting of this betrayal lessened slightly, and year after year, the pain was reduced, no doubt by the grace of GOD, to a dull ache that only arose to a sharp pang if he happened to recall to mind the fateful day, with anguish of soul, he pleaded with his brothers for mercy – but received – none.

His brothers, on the other hand, at the first, probably felt justified in what they did; but over time, and especially seeing how this horrid deed affected their father – perhaps they caught him on occasion, grasping the shredded, blood-dried garment that was his beloved son’s, only now stained with the tears of an old man – but over time, the weight of guilt and shame became heavier and heavier every day.

Fast forward about two decades later: Joseph has been visited by his brothers twice now, and they were just starting back home to Canaan when they were intercepted by Joseph’s steward who claims that these sons of Jacob stole property from his master’s court – a silver cup to be exact.

To their dismay, they find it among Benjamin’s saddlebags! And they all, Benjamin especially, tore their garments in shock and dismay. We know that Joseph had it planted intentionally in Benjamin’s saddlebags, but why? Was he toying with them? What he intentionally causing them anxiety to avenge himself, for all the suffering they put him through?

No; as pastor Sonny pointed out in the previous chapter, I also believe he was testing his brothers to see if they still had it in themselves to betray a brother, another step-brother of theirs, the full-blooded brother of Joseph himself: Benjamin.

They could have done so, and spared themselves, but rather than accusing their youngest brother, they rent their clothes in abject grief; they confess to some sort of “iniquity” but don’t come right out and say it. It seems they realize that GOD allowed this to happen to them (GEN 44:16) because they had betrayed their other brother.

Joseph assures them that he will not kill the thief that stole his cup, or make the others his slaves, but will only take the culprit, Benjamin as his slave and the rest are free to go.
It is then that Judah steps forward and explains the matter – as far as he is willing to go, without admitting what they actually did to Joseph, who happens to be the one listening to Judah’s explanation (GEN 44:28)! But he sees Judah’s tears and hears his humble plea, and that they are unwilling to let Benjamin take the blame alone; that they are all willing to suffer punishment. Judah goes so far as to plead for the sake of Benjamin, asking that he be set free and Judah would take his place.

Earlier in GENESIS 43, when seeing his brothers, and especially Benjamin, it gets to a point where he can’t contain himself, he excuses himself immediately, goes to a private room and sobs. He cleans up and goes back out to share a meal with them.

As we begin Chapter 45 Joseph is about to drop a bomb shell on his brothers and rock their world!

GENESIS 45:1-3
Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren. And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard. And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence

Joseph is an emotional time bomb about to explode – he couldn’t contain himself much longer; imagine the thoughts and emotions of over two decades kept under lock and key regarding the loss of family relationships, the longed for experiences that he would never experience, nor be able to capture from the past. But he sees how his brothers had changed from what they were. How each of them were willing to subject themselves to bondage and not leave Benjamin to his fate. And now, here they are again, and Joseph has his younger brother before his eyes.

He commands that all the Egyptians leave the room, and then he reveals himself. . . and asks if his father still lives.

Here again, Joseph represents a type of Christ. When Joseph was nothing but the ‘kid brother’ and least esteemed among his older brothers, he was rejected; now he is in the full glory of Egypt in wealth, possessions, fine clothing and a luxurious home, revealing himself to his brothers. But until he revealed himself, his identity was hidden to his brothers.

When the Messiah first came, He was rejected by His own people, but when He reveals Himself in His full glory – the same glory that He laid aside the first time He came – Israel will recognize Him for Who He is and worship Him. The same with Joseph: rejected the first time, received the second! 

We’re going to see parallels between Joseph and Christ, as well as Moses and Christ, when we examine ACTS 7 in August – a great study that bridges GENESIS andEXODUS: the next book for our Wednesday night studies.

His brothers are troubled – the Hebrew word for ‘troubled’ describes an inward trembling, a palpitation, to experience dismay or even terror. They were freaked out; their hearts were in their throats when their brother revealed himself to them. They were so struck with dismay that they couldn’t even respond to his question about their father! Perhaps they thought among themselves, “We’re goners! After what we did to him, and now he has all this power at his command – we’re dead!

GENESIS 45:4-5
And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life

Joseph commanded his brothers to come closer and they, probably in a state of shock, obeyed him without thought and timidly stepped forward. He repeats to them who he is, and testifies to the truth of what they did, having sold him into slavery. By now, the sound of Joseph’s voice, and upon closer inspection, despite the shaved head and the customary eye make-up that Egyptian nobility wore in those days, and the fine clothes, they recognized the boy they knew in the man sitting before them.

Yet this man of power, who, with a single word, could have these men slain where they stood, admonishes them to not be grieved with themselves – the word in the Hebrew for “grieved” can mean vexed, tortured, to be pained. 

He tells them not to be angry with themselves: regarding the shameful deed of selling him into slavery. I’m sure even as they stood before Joseph, the terrible memory of seeing him in the pit, his young face turned upward in such a pleading expression for mercy, the anguish in his voice – which were met with cold eyes and deaf ears.

I bet they all wished that Joseph had given them all a fiercely hot and scathing scolding – but his words of grace and kindness must have broken them down to repentance far more powerfully than a rebuke. What does it say in ROM 2:4? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Joseph understands now why GOD allowed his brothers to do what they did to him:

GENESIS 45:6-8
For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt

We leave this world, at the end of our days, with so many unanswered questions, so many hurts and sorrows that we have no understanding about, regarding their purpose or the longevity of such trials. Too many unanswered questions when we leave this life! But like the old hymn says:
Farther along we'll know all about it
Farther along we'll understand why
Cheer up my brother live in the sunshine
We'll understand it all by and by

Yet there are some answers that the LORD brings to us, and here Joseph has his. After twenty years of wondering, praying, questioning GOD about this; absolutely clueless how GOD could possibly bring any good out of his betrayal by his brothers who sold him into slavery, out of his imprisonment after being falsely accused – the LORD finally allows him to understand.

This wise and gentle man of GOD knows the deep and precious experience of seeing GOD take the very worst tragedy of his life, and use this very thing to bring about the greatest blessing – not just to Pharaoh’s court, not just to the capital of Egypt only, but the entire kingdom of Egypt, as well as Canaan, including his longed for family.

He sees and understands the heart of GOD, that He does all things well: He brought to Joseph such a tender, merciful, compassionate, and wise heart through all the fierce trials he faced. The LORD brought about salvation throughout the kingdom because of the trials of Joseph. And the LORD used Joseph to bring his brothers to recognize their sin, to repentance and to the repairing of relationship as we saw in Ch. 44. He saved them all “by a great deliverance”: the great escape from death itself by starvation. Joseph provided the bread that sustained their life! What did the LORD Jesus say?

JOHN 6:50-51
50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world
In this situation we see where the free will of man and the sovereignty of GOD mesh together so that there is a seamless interplay between the two. You see, there are those who look at these two doctrines, ‘the sovereignty of GOD’ and ‘the free will moral agency of man’ as complete opposites and irreconcilable. That you have to believe in one or the other, but not both.

But what do we see here: Joseph decided to share his teen-age visions with his brothers; his brothers decided to act on their jealousy and spite and sold him into slavery. Potiphar decided to purchase Joseph as a slave. Potiphar’s wife decided to act on her lust for this young man, then decided to falsely accuse him when he spurned her. Potiphar decided not to kill Joseph, but to imprison him. Then the chief baker of Pharaoh remembers this young man who was able to interpret dreams and tells Pharaoh about him – and the king summons the young man out of prison.

Then GOD grants to Joseph the understanding of the dreams Pharaoh had, and the ruler of Egypt perceives the humility and wisdom of the young man and decides to make him his second-in-command.

And all of this eventually leads to the very will of GOD that the LORD intended from the start, all according to His sovereign will!

ROMANS 11:33-34
33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! 34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?
~               ~          ~
GENESIS 45:9-11
Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not: 10 And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children's children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast: 11 And there will I nourish thee; for yet there are five years of famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty

Jacob, I’m sure was suffering all kinds of anxiety in his old age, wringing his hands, fervently praying, and pleading with GOD to please, please bring my sons back to me safely; please spare them from slavery or death! But he had no idea how powerfully his prayer would be answered!

Jacob had no idea how long this famine would last, but his sons do – Joseph told them: five more years still (only two have passed); he may well have doubted as to whether any of them would survive except for the promise that GOD made him, an anchor for his faith, that of him and his sons, GOD would raise up a great nation!

Imagine his sons rushing back to their father, eyes wide with a joyful, mysterious light, smiles stretching across their faces and proclaiming the good news!
The sort of good news that the angels announced to the women who came in deep despair and grieve to the tomb of their deceased, beloved LORD:

MARK 16:5-7
And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: HE IS RISEN; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you
“Thus saith Joseph…” Three words that erupted in the depths of Jacobs’ soul an explosion of joy and hope – very much as the angels spoke those three words to the women at the tomb of the LORD: “HE IS RISEN!”

12 And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you

Joseph now calls attention to the fact that he is speaking Hebrew to them, and not in the Egyptian tongue, and now that he has revealed himself to them, they probably now recognize the voice of their brother, the inflection and tone that was unique to Joseph. They know this is Joseph, because he rightly identifies Benjamin as his very own brother (not a step-brother as all the others were).

GENESIS 45:13-15
13 And ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that ye have seen; and ye shall haste and bring down my father hither. 14 And he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck. 15 Moreover he kissed all his brethren and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him

One of the most touching verses in these chapters in the life of Joseph. Think of it, growing up in this family, being despised by his brothers, Benjamin alone, the other son of Rachel their mother, was the only ally he probably had, and having the same mother, this was a strong bond that held them together. Twenty years of being deprived of the fellowship with his beloved, younger brother must have been agonizing. The restraint that Joseph had to exercise upon seeing Benjamin when every fiber of his being cried out to leap from his royal chair and embrace him!

Yet now that he has revealed himself, all restraint is loosed and he embraces his brother, and without doubt the tears of Benjamin were flowing just as freely as Joseph’s – if not more so! For up to this point, Benjamin believed Joseph to be dead, and now through the shock and bewilderment of this startling declaration, receiving the gift that is his brother, brought about tears of sheer joy and gratitude.

Think, once again, of the disciples of Christ, their hearts in anguish, their hopes dashed, their faith destroyed, their minds full of fear and then the LORD appears to them, into their very midst! The Scripture tells us that when the LORD revealed Himself to them,  40… when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?LUKE 24:40-41 

I think of the day when all Israel shall be saved (ROM 11:26); when the Messiah clefts the heavens in half, and arrives in all of His glory and rescues His brethren of Israel from destruction at the hands of the anti-Christ, and how they will mourn for Him (ZECH 12:10), recognizing their betrayal, having rejected Him, but then the overwhelming joy they will have, when they recognize His love for them because of the wounds He still bears, testifying of that Almighty love:

And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those
[wounds] with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.
ISAIAH 51:11
Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away
GENESIS 45:16-20
16 And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh's house, saying, Joseph's brethren are come: and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants. 17 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye; lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan; 18 And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land.19 Now thou art commanded, this do ye; take you wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come. 20 Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours

“…it pleased Pharaoh well and his servants.” The Hebrew word for ‘pleased’ is a compound word that essentially means that Pharaoh’s eyes dazzled with delight, and so did his servants, when they heard that Joseph’s brothers had arrived.

And it makes me wonder – once Joseph had all this power and authority, why he didn’t head out to Canaan and take the initiative in meeting his family that he hadn’t seen for years and years. I’m sure he must have prayed about it, and as we can see how things turned out, the LORD’s answer was likely, “No, wait.”

When we pray to the LORD, and He says, “No, wait” or simply “wait” it’s always the case that delayed answer to prayer will mean greater blessing later on down the road. And that’s what we see here!

And Pharaoh is so delighted that he said to Joseph, ‘Have your brothers go down and get Dad, and all the rest of your family and come on down, and I’ll give them the best land in my kingdom (the land of Goshen)'. And he offered a shuttle service for them all too – enough wagons for the little ones and wives to ease their journey – but don’t worry about their belongings; I’ll take care of everything! 

Can’t you see the love and devotion of Pharaoh towards Joseph? And now, Joseph’s family is being blessed! It’s because of him (the LORD really) that Pharaoh even has any kingdom left to rule!

For GOD so loved the people of Egypt that He gave them Joseph, so that whoever believed his interpretation of Pharaoh’s vision would be saved – from starvation. Does that sound familiar to you?

GENESIS 45:21-22
21 And the children of Israel did so: and Joseph gave them wagons, according to the commandment of Pharaoh, and gave them provision for the way. 22 To all of them he gave each man changes of raiment; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver, and five changes of raiment

This seems to be a grievous error on Joseph’s part, that he is showing undue favoritism to Benjamin, but in this case, it’s not so. Nor do I think that it’s because he was testing his step-brothers anymore. Rather, that because he was the full-blooded brother this was a kind of inheritance – but once again, we see no envious or resentful response from the other brothers. They’ve been completely changed so that they were no longer given to petty feuding or strife. They’ve come to realize that,

LUKE 12:15
And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth
They were all granted a new set of clothes; Benjamin five sets of clothes – all provided by the Royal Steward of Pharaoh, Joseph the son of Jacob and Rachel. These royal-bestowed garments speaks of Christ’s righteousness given to us unworthy sinners solely by GOD’s grace, just as Joseph’s brothers did nothing to deserve these new clothes, but received them from their brother that simply loved them, and expressed that love by these gifts.

ROMANS 3:21-23
21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference
And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints
For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven
GENESIS 45:23-25
23 And to his father he sent after this manner; ten donkeys laden with the good things of Egypt, and ten she donkeys laden with corn and bread and meat for his father by the way. 24 So he sent his brethren away, and they departed: and he said unto them, See that ye fall not out by the way. 25 And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father

“See that you fall not out by the way” was an admonition by Joseph to ‘stay out of trouble’ – they’ve been laden with lots of provisions, and remember, there is still a severe drought going; Joseph said, ‘five more years left still’. They could be confronted with thieves, so be careful!
But also, this was an admonition for his brothers to walk in wisdom: they were going to tell their father that Joseph still lives, and the father will want to know how this can be; any explanation any one of Jacob’s sons might include accusations and blame among them as to who the really guilty men were. Don’t resort to quarrelling or get into ‘the blame game’ was Joseph’s admonition here.

GENESIS 45:26-28
26 And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob's heart fainted, for he believed them not. 27 And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived: 28 And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die

This news was ‘too good to be true’ – for twenty years Jacob believed that Joseph was dead; the awful wounds of grief and mourning had healed by this time, and now he’s being told that he is still alive? Notice that nothing is recorded about Jacob questioning his sons about this matter. “You told me he was killed by an animal – I have his blood-stained many colored coat to prove it! What happened?!” He never asked these questions; at least we have nothing recorded. 

Perhaps deep down in his heart of hearts Jacob suspected all along what was done, knowing how Joseph’s brothers envied him, but couldn’t prove his suspicions, so he kept any such accusations to himself?

This stupendously good news was hard to accept so his “heart fainted” but upon hearing his son’s account of what transpired and seeing the Egyptian wagons, Jacob’s spirit “revived” and then look at what it says next:

28 And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.

Why the name change here, from Jacob to Israel? Remember that when Jacob wrestled with the angel of the LORD in GENESIS 32, he stubbornly implored to be blessed, and the LORD touched his thigh and make him a cripple, no longer able to run away from his problems, no longer able to depend on his own strength – he was then made dependent on the LORD for blessing and provision. It was then that he was given the name Israel. This not only speaks of a changed nature, but also a testament of GOD’s work in his life.

So when he is called Israel here, it speaks of GOD’s promise given and fulfilled to this man; that the LORD indeed will bless him, and through him and his sons, including Joseph – and we shall see, through his grandsons (sons of Joseph) Ephraim and Manasseh multiply his descendants “as the dust of the Earth”

GENESIS 28:11-16
11 And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. 12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. 13 And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; 14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. 16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not

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