After two years in jail, Joseph was brought out to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams. He told Pharaoh about the seven years of famine that would follow the seven good years of bumper harvests. Then Pharoah gave to Joseph the task of storing up food throughout the cities of Egypt. Pharaoh gave Joseph a new name, Zaphnathpaaneah – which meant revealer of secrets. Pharaoh also gave to Joseph a wife called Asenath, the daughter of Potipherah, the priest of On - a different man from Potiphar, the King’s guard.
Joseph and his wife, Asenath, were blessed with two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Joseph named his firstborn son Manasseh, which meant to forget, for his firstborn son enabled him to forget his toil as a slave in Egypt and to forget the loss of his father and his family in Canaan. Joseph named his second-born son Ephraim, which meant fruitful. This would remind Joseph that God had made him fruitful in the land of Egypt.
God had done remarkable things in Joseph’s life. He went from being hated and despised to being appreciated and honoured. His life story demonstrated God’s blessing upon the humble person who continues to trust God in times of trouble.
But God was not done with Joseph. God was yet to do the most remarkable things through him when the seven good years ended, for when the famine spread throughout all of Egypt, and throughout all other countries around Egypt, everyone would look to Joseph to open the storehouses to feed them.
Due to the hardship and suffering due to the ongoing famine, Jacob, Joseph’s father, commanded his sons to take the journey down to Egypt to buy corn. Soon, they stood near to Joseph and bowed down before him giving him all the honour due to a king, for Joseph was second in command to Pharaoh, the king in Egypt.
Though it had been at least twelve years since he had seen his brothers Joseph knew them immediately when his eyes first fell upon them, but they did not recognize Joseph. Who could have guessed that their little brother, Joseph, could possibly be raised to such power in Egypt?
Joseph remembered his dreams when the brothers’ sheaves of corn bowed down to him. Now his dreams became reality. His brothers bowed to him out of fear and respect.
Then Joseph accused his brothers of being spies who had come in disguise to search out the secrets of Egypt. In fear and trembling, they protested, “No, we are not spies, we are the sons of one man, Jacob. Our little brother, Benjamin, remains at home and another brother is dead.” The brothers were still living the lie before God and men that Joseph had been killed by a wild beast. They were still covering up the truth about them selling Joseph into slavery. Little did they know that the man before them, dressed in clothes displaying his Egyptian authority, was their very own brother, Joseph. But it was true.
Joseph then set about to bring his brothers to confess the truth about their evil deeds done to him. He called them spies. He wanted them to prove that their story was true. He said I will keep one of you here until you return a second time with Benjamin your brother. Joseph took Simeon and tied him up with ropes to hold him until their return.
Then Joseph sent his brothers away to their father so they would return again with Benjamin. But he quietly commanded his Egyptian steward to put each man’s money back into their sacks of corn, and it wasn’t until they were well into their journey that the brothers found their own money in their sacks and instinctively knew it spelled future trouble for them. When they returned home to their father, they told him everything. Well, not everything, for they had not recognized the man who had treated them as spies. They never even thought it could be Joseph, their long-lost little brother.
But Jacob, their father, was sad to learn that Simeon was locked up in Egypt and the man in Egypt commanded that Benjamin go down to appear before him. At first, he wouldn’t hear of Benjamin going, to Egypt. It would put his life at risk. Jacob still couldn’t bear the pain of losing Joseph, not to mention the loss of Simeon. To lose Benjamin too was just too much. No, he wouldn’t allow him to go to Egypt to lose his life to some cruel Pharaoh.
Each day, however, the famine dried up the land. Each day, each week, and each month the famine increased its burning heat. Relentlessly, it went on and on with no hope of rain to give relief. Soon all the corn they brought back from Egypt was eaten. Before long they would all starve to death? Then Jacob relented. He said to the brothers, Take Benjamin and go again to Egypt. Take gifts of fruit, balm, honey, spices, myrrh, nuts, and almonds. Take new money to buy corn and take the money that was returned in your sacks and go again to the man in Egypt. “If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.” There was nothing else that Jacob could do.
The Bible says that when the brothers stood before Joseph, he took great delight to see his little brother, Benjamin. Joseph held a feast for them and had Benjamin sit near to him. Joseph then gave food gifts to all his brothers, but to Benjamin, he gave five times as much food and drink. Then Joseph instructed his steward to fill the brother’s sacks with corn and secretly put their money back into their bags and put his own precious silver cup into Benjamin’s sack. His brothers knew nothing of the money, nor of the cup in their bags.
The next morning, all eleven brothers, including Simeon, who had been released, departed with Benjamin to go home to their father. When they had travelled a little way out from the city Joseph’s steward caught up with the brothers and accused them of stealing the money paid for the corn. The brothers denied it and innocently said, We don’t have the money, search our bags for yourself and see that we are innocent of such a thing. So, Joseph’s steward opened each bag. To the horror of the brothers, he brought out of their sacks the money that they had paid for the corn. They also found Joseph’s silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. This meant trouble for everyone but for Benjamin, it meant double trouble. How could Benjamin, above all the brothers, clear his name before Joseph? He was sunk.
When the brothers stood again before Joseph feeling ever so guilty and filled with such confusion for the things that had happened, Judah stepped forward to talk with Joseph. He pleaded for the sake of their father who would die if Benjamin did not return home to him. Judah also explained that he had undertaken to be a surety for Benjamin. He would have to bear the blame forever if Benjamin did not return safely to his father. Judah then offered to be a surety to take the place of Benjamin and remain in Egypt as a prisoner in Benjamin’s place.
It was then, when the brothers were deeply humbled and troubled before Joseph and when totally at his mercy, that Joseph broke down in tears. He put all the Egyptians out of his presence and made himself known to his brothers. The Bible says, “He wept aloud: and the house of Pharaoh heard. And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live… I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.”
This is a great gospel story. Jesus came unto his own people when he was born in Israel, but they knew him not. The Lord must reveal himself to His people. Sinners are so sinful and so blinded by their sin that they cannot recognize the Lord to receive Him as their Saviour. Jesus must make himself known to them. The Lord Jesus must open hearts and minds to cause men, women, boys and girls to truly know and believe in Him.
Think of the hymn, written by John Newton:
Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now I’m found, Was blind but now I see.
That's the testimony of each Christian. If you are saved from your spiritual blindness, you will agree that sin blinds, but Jesus truly opened your heart to know Him and to love Him. Now you live to praise Him for His amazing grace that has saved you.
To listen to the audio of this message click here.