What they intended for evil, the LORD intended for good… for the saving of many lives. -Gen. 50:20
After their meal, still not knowing that Joseph was their host, my sons were given the wheat they had bought, along with provisions for their journey back to Canaan. While they were getting ready to leave, Joseph set up one final deception to see into his brothers’ hearts. He had the steward place their silver in the mouth of each one’s sack of food just as before. Then he told him to place his own silver cup, the one he had just used at their meal, in the mouth of Benjamin’s sack. He wanted to see what his brothers would do if my favorite, Benjamin, got into trouble.
Just after the brothers left for home, he had the steward run after them and accuse them of stealing the silver cup. They of course hotly denied any wrong doing and offered to let the steward search their bags. They promised that if he found anything that didn’t belong to them, they would all become Joseph’s slaves and the thief would be executed.
“So be it,” said the steward, ” as he began his search, “But whoever has the cup will become my slave. The rest of you will be allowed to leave.” When he found Joseph’s cup in Benjamin’s bag they were absolutely mortified, knowing they’d been framed and subconsciously afraid that they were about to get exactly what they deserved for selling Joseph into slavery. What goes around comes around, after all. They went back to Joseph’s house to plead for mercy, but Joseph insisted that Benjamin must become his slave. The others were free to go.
Then Judah spoke up repeating the story from their earlier meeting, how I had two sons with the only woman I called my wife. One of them was gone, and now if they returned without the other one, it would break my heart. He pleaded with Joseph to let him stay and become the slave so Benjamin could go home to their father.
This was too much for Joseph. He chased his servants from the room and with loud weeping revealed his identity to his brothers. To say they were shocked would be the understatement of the age. At first they couldn’t believe it, but when he told them how he got to Egypt in the first place they knew it was him. And then they realized that the brother they had so cruelly mistreated now held their future in the palm of his hand. It looked like it really was pay back time; up close and personal. Their shock turned to terror!
To allay the fear he saw dawning in their eyes, Joseph told them not to worry or be angry with each other. He said he believed all of this was really the LORD working behind the scenes to get him to Egypt ahead of them so he’d be able to feed them when the famine came and preserve God’s chosen ones. So even though they had intended it for evil, the LORD intended it for good to save all their lives by a great deliverance. (I can’t help but think of another time, several thousand years later, when the evil acts of His brothers resulted in the Messiah saving the lives of many by a great deliverance, again preserving His chosen ones.)
Immediately their fear melted into relief and they hugged and kissed him, all crying and talking at the same time. Joseph begged them to hurry back to Canaan to get me and the rest of the family before we all starved to death. After all there were still five years of famine left.
Someone had told Pharaoh that Joseph’s brothers were in town so he came over to meet them. Learning of their starving family back in Caanan, he gave my sons 20 donkeys and carts to haul our wheat plus the abundance of extra food and clothing he and Joseph had given them up to Canaan. He said to use the carts to bring all of us to Egypt as quickly as possible. You should have seen them coming up the highway toward us with all those carts and donkeys piled high with the best Egypt had to offer. I tell you it was quite a sight, but in no way could it have prepared me for the news that my long lost son was alive and the number two man in Egypt. I refused to believe it. Funny how it was easier for me to believe the lie of his death than the truth of his life.
But then I looked at those carts and saw all the food and the Spirit within me convinced me that it was true. I was going to see my beloved son again after all. Judah had been afraid of breaking an old man’s heart with sorrow, but I was afraid my heart would burst with joy.
When we were all ready, we loaded the carts and set off for Egypt. At Beersheba we stopped and I offered a sacrifice to the LORD. That night the LORD spoke to me in a vision telling me not to be afraid to go to Egypt. He said He would make my people into a great nation there, and would not only go with us but would also bring us back to the land He had given us. Then He brought the promise He had made to my grandfather Abraham into my mind. “Your descendants will go to a strange country and remain there for 400 years until the people of Canaan have used up all the time I am giving them to repent of their evil ways and return to Me.”
Knowing in advance that they wouldn’t repent, but still giving them the time He committed to, He had promised Abraham that at the end of the 400 years he would bring our descendants back into this land and give it to us. By going to Egypt now, we were beginning the fulfillment of that promise.
Sixty-six direct descendants of mine went to Egypt with me, not counting the wives of my sons and grandsons. Adding Joseph and his two sons who were already there means we would be seventy strong when we settled at Goshen in the Nile Delta region. 400 years later when Moses brought my descendants out of Egypt there were over 1.5 million of them, including women and children. A great nation, just like He promised.
When we entered Egypt, I sent Judah ahead to ask Joseph for directions to Goshen, and when we got there Joseph met us, driving his fancy Egyptian chariot. As soon as he saw me, Joseph ran up and threw his arms around me. He had been a teenage shepherd boy when I had last seen him and now he was 39 years old, a grown man and Prime Minister of the richest country in the world. As for me, my life was now complete. I had seen with my own eyes that my beloved son was alive and I could now die in peace. Praise the LORD. More next time.