God Sent Me

He was seventeen when he was rejected by his ten older brothers. They were envious of their father's love for him. "Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colours. But when his brothers saw that he loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him." (Genesis 37:3-4)

He was envied for his dreams of greatness. "Now Joseph had a dream, and he told his brothers; and they hated him even more. So he said to them, 'Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed to my sheaf.'

"And his brothers said to him, 'Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?' So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words." (Genesis 37:5)

When Joseph told his brothers he had had a second dream it only infuriated them more. Even his father, who loved him, rebuked him. "What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?" (Genesis 37:10)

While shepherding in Dothan, his brothers plotted to kill Joseph. ". . . let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, 'Some wild beast has devoured him.' We shall see what will become of his dreams!" (Genesis 37:20)

Reuben persuaded his brothers to avoid killing Joseph themselves, but rather put him in an isolated pit. "And Reuben said to them, 'Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit which is in the wilderness, and do not lay a hand on him'–that he might deliver him out of their hands, and bring him back to his father." (Genesis 37:23) Reuben then departed from his brothers.

In the meantime, Judah suggested to his brothers that they sell Joseph to a company of traders who were passing by, on their way to Egypt. "'What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother and our flesh.' And his brothers listened." (Genesis 37:26-27)

Despised and rejected by his brothers, Joseph was sold. Their rejection foreshadowed the future tragedy when the children of Israel would reject the Messiah. The prophet Isaiah speaks of this sad event. "He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from him; he was despised, and we did not esteem him." (Isaiah 53:3)

The Psalmist too refers to this same tragic event, "The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone." (Psalm 118:22)

When the brothers tell their father that Joseph was killed by a wild beast, Jacob is overcome with grief and mourns many days. "Then Jacob tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his waist, and mourned for his son many days. And all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and he said, 'For I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning.' Thus his father wept for him." (Genesis 37:34-35) Jacob mourned for Joseph as though he was his only son.

Jacob's mourning foreshadows the nation's deep mourning for the Messiah. As it is written, "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for him as one grieves for a firstborn." (Zechariah 12:10)

Arriving in Egypt, Joseph was sold to Potiphar, an Egyptian and a captain of the guard for Pharaoh. God blessed Joseph. Potiphar recognized Joseph's special gifts and made him Administrator over his household. Potiphar's wife lusted after Joseph and attempted to seduce him. She failed but succeeded in having him thrown in prison on false charges.

God continued to bless Joseph while he was in prison, where he his special gifts were again recognized, for which he was made chief administrator of supplies. Meanwhile Pharaoh's chief drink steward and chief baker were thrown in prison. While there, both had separate dreams, which Joseph interpreted. The dreams were fulfilled, according to Joseph's interpretation. The chief drink steward was restored to office while the chief baker was executed.

After two years Pharaoh dreamed two dreams. When his magicians could not interpret the dreams, his chief drink steward remembered Joseph and recommended him to Pharaoh.

Joseph was brought before Pharaoh, and was told about Pharaoh's two dreams. Joseph informed Pharaoh that the two dreams are one. There will be seven good years of plenty, followed by seven bad years of famine. Joseph recommended that Pharaoh appoint a man who would be responsible for gathering one-fifth of the produce during the seven good years, so that there would be sufficient grain to survive the seven bad years. Pharaoh promptly appointed Joseph as Prime Minister. And so, for seven years Prime Minister Joseph gathered grain storing it in readiness for the seven years of famine.

When Joseph's brothers travelled to Egypt to buy supplies, the entire region had already been in the grip of the famine for two years. As Prime Minister, Joseph was responsible for distributing the stored grain. The same brothers who had sold him to the travelling traders were now bowing before him–twenty-two years later. They didn't recognize Joseph, but he recognized them.

Joseph claimed that they were spies and were subsequently imprisoned. Joseph overheard his brothers recalling what they had done to him, twenty-two years previously, and heard their confession of guilt to each other. "Then they said to one another, 'We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us.'" (Genesis 42:21)

The sons of Jacob acknowledged that the distress and pressing circumstances which they were experiencing came as a result of their rejection of their brother, Joseph. This is a fore shadow of the great distress that will come upon the children of Israel as a consequence of their rejection of the Messiah. And just as Joseph's brothers were delivered out of their distress, so too, will the children of Israel. As it is written: "Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it." (Jeremiah 30:7) And as the Psalmist says, "I called on the LORD in distress, the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place." (Psalm 118:5)

Three days later the brothers were released from prison and were given enough food and provisions for themselves and their families, as well as for the journey home to Canaan. Joseph also had their money restored to their respective sacks. However, Simeon was taken prisoner and stayed in Egypt as surety until they returned with their youngest brother, Benjamin.

Arriving home, the brothers reported to their father what had happened in Egypt. They told him that they could not return to Egypt unless Benjamin was with them. Reuben attempted to persuade his father that he would keep Benjamin safe. Jacob recalled the loss of Joseph, and now the loss of Simeon. How could he possibly let Benjamin go?! Meanwhile, the famine continued and supplies began to run low. Then Jacob told his sons that they must go back to Egypt to buy more supplies. Judah convinces his father and gives assurances for Benjamin's safety.

"Then Judah said to Israel his father, 'Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones. I myself will be surety for him; from my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever. . . ' And their father Israel said to them, 'If it must be so, then do this. . . Take your brother also, and arise, go back to the man. And may God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may release your other brother and Benjamin. If I am bereaved, I am bereaved!'" (Genesis 43:8-9, 11-14)

When the brothers arrived in Egypt the second time, Joseph sees Benjamin. He immediately, invites them to his home for a meal. The brothers fear that it could be a trap and speak with the steward. The steward reassures them that God is with them, and returns Simeon to them. They all sat down to eat. The brothers were arranged according to their birthright, starting with the oldest to youngest. Benjamin, especially, is shown favour above his brothers, receiving five times more food than them. Joseph and his brothers also drink together.

Joseph commands that his brothers' sacks be filled, that their money be restored, as before, in the mouth of the sack, and that his special cup be placed in Benjamin's sack. The brothers then leave for Canaan but soon after their departure they are stopped by Joseph's steward who informs them that one of them has stolen his master's special cup. The thief was to return with the steward back to Egypt. However, all the brothers return, humbled and in wonder at the turn of events. In Benjamin's sack was found Joseph's special cup, and so, Joseph claimed Benjamin as his servant. The brothers resisted, however, and Judah refused to let him go. "For how shall I go up to my father if the lad is not with me, lest perhaps I see the evil that would come upon my father?" (Genesis 44:34)

The truth of Judah's statement was to Joseph like a flood. Like a dam during the flood season, Joseph was at breaking point. He could not hold back the truth any longer. "Then Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, 'Make everyone go out from me!' So no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers... Then Joseph said to his brothers, 'I am Joseph; does my father still live?'" (Genesis 45:1-3)

Joseph's brothers were not expecting the Prime Minister of Egypt to be a Hebrew, let alone the brother whom they rejected. They could not answer him. Joseph called them to come nearer. They came nearer. Understanding their bewilderment, Joseph reaffirmed to them that whilst they had endeavoured to get rid of him, it was, in fact, God who sent him to go on ahead of them, so that God could, through Joseph, deliver the house of Jacob, and preserve their heritage, in order to fulfil His purposes through them. ". . . God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance." (Genesis 45:7)

Some have asked, "Why would Joseph choose to remain hidden from his brothers for so long?" Perhaps it was to foreshadow the time when the Messiah would be hidden from the nation of Israel. Just as Joseph was rejected by his brothers, so too, will the Messiah be rejected by His own. And just as Joseph called his brothers to come near to see that it was indeed him, so too, the children of Israel will draw near to see the Messiah for who He is–the One who was rejected and pierced for them– Yeshua of Nazareth. He has risen from the dead and sits at the right hand of God until the restoration of all things.

Though a remnant of Israel believe in the Messiah today, He will remain hidden from the nation, until that generation is ready to say, "See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see me no more till you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!'" (Matthew 23:37)

In that day, Israel will acknowledge that God had sent Him, Yeshua, to preserve a posterity for Israel in the earth and to save them with an everlasting salvation. The Messiah will then return as King, to save Israel from the yoke of the Oppressor, and to establish His reign of righteousness and peace throughout the earth.