Joseph Revealed to His Brethren
September 7th, 1958 @ 8:15 AM
JOSEPH REVEALED TO HIS BRETHREN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
9-7-58 8:15 a.m.
You are listening to the early morning service of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the early morning message entitled Joseph Reveals Himself to His Brethren. You can easily follow the message if you will turn to the forty-second chapter of the Book of Genesis, Genesis 42. And the message this morning covers Chapters 42, 43, 44, and 45.
The last time that I stood in this pulpit we had followed the life of Joseph after he had been placed in the pit then sold for a slave, then placed in a dungeon, then out of the pit and out of the dungeon exalted to be next to Pharaoh himself as the governor in the Land of Egypt. Egypt at that time, of course, was the greatest empire in the world. From the pit of the grave to the palace and the throne, from the dungeon of the sepulcher to the diadem of the kingdom, when you study the life of Joseph you study the life of our Lord.
The most important character in the beginning book of the Old Testament is Abraham. He is the Father of the Faithful whether they be Christians, or Muslim, or Jews. Yet there is far more recorded in the Book of Genesis, many, many more chapters concerning Joseph than there are concerning Abraham.
There is a meaning of the Holy Spirit in all these things. The purpose of the Spirit of God is to reveal to our hearts Jesus our Lord. That purpose is not just of this era or this dispensation. That purpose goes back to the beginning. And wherever you read in the Bible that purpose always obtains the Spirit of God is revealing to His people the Savior of the world.
So when we go back to these old pages, and these old books, and this Old Testament we are still learning of Jesus; sitting at the feet of Jesus looking upon the glory of the Lord. The only difference is in the old book in the old dispensation we look upon our Lord by figure, by simile, by type, by metaphor, by picture, by adumbration, by shadow. Whereas in the New Testament we look upon Him in substance, in full incarnation as He walked and talked among us. Then the whole Bible, all of it is a wonderful prophecy, and portent, and adumbration, and delineation of the glorious and final revelation in the world and the heaven that is to come.
So no matter where in the Book you open the page there writ large is the story of our Savior Christ Jesus. Now that is why that in the economy of God the Spirit chose to place upon these pages so much of the life of Joseph because the life of Joseph is an open revelation before the time of our Savior and the work of our Savior in the earth.
So here he is from the pit to the palace, from the dungeon to the diadem seated now upon the throne next to the pharaoh of the world’s greatest empire. Now in those days according to the prophecy, according to the vision revealed unto Daniel, in those days there were to be seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. So Joseph guides the work of the gathering of the harvest in the fertile Valley of the Nile.
For seven years he takes one-fifth of all the produce of the land and he stores it in local cities all through the kingdom. He does that because it is close to the source of the harvest. Again it is close to the place of its eventual necessity and use. So you see Joseph riding in his chariot superintending the ditches, and the canals, and the irrigation projects making the Nile bring forth in profusion its abundance of grain then buying one-fifth of it and storing it in those great granaries.
I thought of that one time in Egypt passing by. There was a big government ground in which stacks of wheat were high, high and long, long rows. And those men as they worked in there, naked to their waist sweating under that hot sun, you don’t need a house in which to store grain in Egypt. It never rains there. Just store it outside, those big, big assembly points. Seeing those men handling those bags of grain I thought about Joseph in the days when he gathered it together against the years of the famine. Then after seven years having gathered one-fifth of all the yield and produce of the land all through Egypt, from the length of it to the breadth, there were vast storehouses to take care of the people.
Then the famine struck. Then the terrible drought struck. The Nile evidently failed to overflow. And after a year or two the supplies of the people ran out. And there was destitution in the land and crying for bread and Joseph is the giver the dispenser of the staff of life. For one to live he must come to Joseph. Without Joseph the people would have died. But with Joseph on the throne there is bread and enough for all.
That is the picture of our Lord: He is the giver of the Bread of Life, without our Savior on the throne we all would perish. And if one is to live he must come to Joseph. If one is to live he must come to our Lord, so it is by and by that the hand and the providence of God in that necessity reaches down to a family in little Palestine near Hebron.
And when Jacob saw that there was corn, there was bread in Egypt Jacob said unto his sons ‘Why do you look one upon another?
Behold I have heard that there is corn in Egypt. Get you down thither and buy for us from thence; that we may live and not die.’
[Genesis 42:1, 2]
Now look at that providence. What a harsh judgment had come; the land burned to brass and the sky stark, and empty, and furious. And these sons of Jacob had fallen into hopeless lethargy and despair. "Why do ye look one upon another?" Flocks die. The valleys empty; the land scorched and burned. And for seven years it is to be that way. These sons who were tending the flocks tilling the soil were in despair. And Jacobs says, "I have heard there is bread in Egypt."
Now I want you to look at that. As long as the valleys of Palestine were green with waving wheat and then white with harvest; as long as the valleys of Hebron rang with the voice of the reaper; as long as the hills were verdant and emerald; as long as they were covered with flocks of sheep, and of goats, and herds of cattle there would never have been any concern on the part of Levi, or Simeon, or Reuben, or Judah, or even of Israel himself. But when the famine struck, out of dire need and necessity God was taking these men to Joseph.
Now we are that way. God was going to build a great people out of that family, a great nation but He could not do it as long as they were as they were; Judah, Simeon, and Levi unrepentant, rebellious against God. I think we are that way. Sometimes God breaks up our nest. Sometimes God reduces us to our last extremity. Sometimes God pulls up by the roots. Why? Because the Lord is harsh and hard? Not at all; he is bringing us to Joseph. He is leading us to the Savior. That is what happened here. "I have heard there is bread in Egypt."
So they go down into the Land of Egypt to buy bread. Now look at that sixth verse:
And Joseph was the governor over the land and he it was
that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren
came and bowed down themselves before him with their faces
to the earth.
And Joseph saw his brethren and he knew them but they didn’t know him. He made himself strange unto them.
Well, so this is the boy that dreamed of dreams that his sheaf stood up. And all the other sheaves bowed before his sheaf. And his brethren mocked, and jeered, and ridiculed, and said "We will put him in the pit."
"No, we will sell him for a slave. "
"Then what will come of his dreams?"
Well, of all things! And his brethren are bowed down before him with their faces to the earth! "Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord." Isn’t that an amazing thing? This is the only time that you will find that they are doing it. "And Joseph was governor over the land."
Now they didn’t recognize him. Well, I could easily have imagined that. They didn’t recognize him. Joseph was seventeen years old when he was sold as a slave into the hands of the Ishmaelites and took him down into Egypt – seventeen years-old! Now he was thirty years old when he stood before pharaoh. So, he was thirty-seven years old when the seven years of plenty were ended. Now we have to allow, say two or three years for the stores of the people to run and they come to dire necessity. So I would say that Joseph was forty years old when his brethren came to see him.
Now Joseph spake the Land of the Nile, Joseph was arrayed in regal robes; he lived in a palace – a retinue of servants followed him, bands of musicians placed before him – every honor and deference was showed to him. And if those brethren had thought about Joseph and his being found in Egypt, they would have expected to discover him manacled as a slave toiling in some brickyard. It never entered their minds that he, Joseph, a slave sold in bondage would be there next to the throne of Pharaoh himself.
Why, bless your heart! I could easily see why they did not recognize him. When you follow the life of our Lord, so humbly born where the cattle were stalled; so humbly lived as a carpenter; so cast out and numbered with transgressors in His ministry; I tell you, sometimes it takes faith to believe that the people who looked upon that could ever say, "This is the Lord." But it is a mystery of God. It is the Lord’s way. It is the Lord’s work, "God was with Joseph" and God was Jesus our Lord. And out of the pit, and the slavery, and the dungeon; out of the ridicule, and scorn, and rejection; out of unbelief there arose this governor of Egypt. There arises the Lord and King of all this earth.
Then Joseph speaks unto them and he talks to them; and to their amazement he asks about their father and their younger brother, and it is strange. Then he says, "You must go back and bring your younger brother. And you must leave one here as a hostage until you bring him back to me." And in despair those brethren say to one another, verse21:
We are verily guilty concerning our brother
– talking about Joseph –
in that we saw the anguish of his soul when he besought us and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.
Some of these days His brethren, His Hebrew people are going to say – in a tribulation – in a time of dire distress and necessity, "We are verily guilty concerning our brother." They said, "His blood be upon us and on our hands." And His blood has been upon their hands for these generations and generations hence. But some of these days they shall say, "We are verily guilty concerning our brother, when we saw the anguish of His soul and nailed Him to the cross when He besought us and pled with us and we would not hear."
Isn’t it a strange thing? I want you to look at this twenty-eighth verse. When they go back home, open their sacks and there is the corn; each man finds his money in his sack. "And their heart failed them and they were afraid saying, What is this that God hath done unto us?" [Genesis 42:28]
Now, isn’t that just all of us? We think sometimes that God is so harsh and God is hard, providence frowns and life is dark. "And their hearts fail them and they were afraid. What is it that God hath done unto us?" And all the time it was a heart of tender love and care. The only reason he kept Simeon was that it might be a silken thread to bring them back to Egypt.
Now that is the way we are, "What is it that God hath done?" that we are so discouraged, and so blue, and so downcast, and so disheartened. "Oh! What is it that God hath done?" He seems to hide His face. He seems to be harsh and cruel when all the time what God hath done is just to bring His children to a saving, loving, bowing, worshipping obedience to Joseph; to Jesus our Lord.
Well, they are back home in Hebron now with bread for a while but famine did not stop. See Israel thought, "We would have bread for a year maybe two years, by that time surely it will rain!" Well, it didn’t, it didn’t. One year, two years, three years, four years, five years, six years, the sky was still brass and the earth was still iron.
Now look at the next chapter, the forty-third chapter: "And the famine was sore in the land."
And the famine was sore in the land.
And it came to pass when they had eaten up the corn which
they had brought out of Egypt their father said unto them
Go again buy us a little food.
Look at that tenth verse. This second time, this second time so the second time; they are going down to see Joseph. Now let’s pause there and say just a word about that second time. If I could describe the Christian faith as being any one thing above anything else; I would call it the faith, the religion of the second chance, the faith of the religion of the land of beginning again; the second time. Why, just all through the Bible, the Bible is full of it; the second one, the second time; the first son of Abraham Ishmael? No, but the second son, Isaac. Yes, the first son of Isaac, Esau? No, the second son of Isaac, Israel, yes! Seven years for Leah? No, seven years for Rachel, yes!
Moses goes down into the land of Egypt and he seeks to deliver his people; now they reject him. The second time they accept him. Though Moses comes from the top of Sinai with the tables of stone, the first are cast away and broken. The second are in the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord. The first generation dies out in the wilderness. The second generation enters into the Promised Land. The first king is rejected, Saul. The second king is anointed over Israel forever, David.
The first king that proposes to build the temple is rejected. The second king, his son Solomon builds the temple. The first temple never saw the presence of the Lord incarnate. The prophet Haggai says that the second temple shall be greater than the first. It shall be visited by the Lord Himself. Well, you could just go on, and on, and on; the second thing, the second thing; the first appearance of our Lord in this earth; the second coming of our Lord in glory and in triumph; the second time down to see Joseph again.
Now look who leads the group. Look at that eighth verse: "And Judah said unto Israel." Rueben has already lost his priority. He has forfeited his leadership of the group. It is Judah. "We cannot go without out our younger son."
And when Israel demurs about Benjamin going Judah says, "I will be surety for him." In the ninth verse, "Of my hand shalt thou require him: if I bring him not unto thee and set him before thee then let me bear the blame forever." So finally Israel acquiesces and Judah is responsible for young Benjamin as they go down in the Land of Egypt. And they come before Joseph again. And Joseph gives each man his corn. Then he tells his steward to hide his cup out of which he drinks in the sack of the youngest Benjamin.
So they go on their way. Then a troop overtakes them saying "What meaneth this? After my master is good to you gives you bread to eat and entreats you; and you take from him the most precious possession he had, the cup out of which he drinks and from which he divined."
And they all say, "We took not his cup." And they say "Search us and see and in whose sack you find it let him die the death." So the steward starts with the sack of the oldest Reuben; then the next one Simeon; then the next one Levi; then the next one Reuben and goes right on through. And the sack is not found until he came to Benjamin. The eleventh boy opened the sack and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. And they ripped their clothes and returned to the city. And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph’s house. And they fell before him on the ground.
That dream, "And every knee shall bow and every tongue confess." Fell before him on the ground. Then Judah drew near. I haven’t time to read Judah’s appeal but in all the literature of the world there is nothing more beautiful, or eloquent, or filled with pathos than the appeal of Judah to Joseph for Benjamin and his aged father Israel. And when Judah finished his appeal, "How shall I go up to my father and the lad not with me?"
Then Joseph could refrain himself no more. And putting out all of the Egyptians he burst into tears and said "I, I am Joseph." [Genesis 45:3] Oh! They were terrified, "Then we have fallen in deep into the lion’s den; Joseph, Joseph." Terrified they shrank away from him. And Joseph said, "Come near to me I pray you. Come near."
Listen. There is no period of probation coming to the Lord. There is no necessity to wait, or to delay, or to be afraid, or to be terrified. Come boldly. Come. Come. "We who one time were far off have been made nigh by the blood of Christ." Come. Come. Come. "I am Joseph." And he kissed his brethren and wept upon them and talked with him. And his brethren talked with him.
All of it is a repeated story in the Word of God. And the brethren of our Lord in the household of Joseph and Mary did not believe upon Him. But after He arose from the dead, after He was raised from the grave, after He was the very Child of God in power and in resurrection glory, He revealed himself unto James and His brethren and they believed on Him.
And Paul says, "As unto one out of due time He appeared unto me." [1 Corinthians 15:8] That is some of these days the Lord shall appear to His brethren, to His people. And they are going to be terrified and frightened just like all of us would. They are going to weep. And they are going to wail, "For every eye shall see Him and they that pierced Him." [Revelation 1:7] And so all Israel shall be saved:
As it is written There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
This is My covenant unto them when I shall take away their sins.
As concerning the gospel, enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.
For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
He never changes. We may change, we may forget, we may turn aside, but God never changes. And the promises of the Lord are forever and forever.
Someday these who now reject Him, His own brethren shall look upon Him, look into His hands that are pierced and His side that is scarred. "Whence those scars they are they that I received in the house of My friends." [Zechariah 13:6]
"He came unto His own received Him not." [John 1:11] But someday, someday He shall appear. He shall reveal Himself unto His brethren like He did to James, like he did to Paul before the time. And a nation shall be born in a day and His own people shall accept Him and bow down and worship Him. Oh, what a day of glory, glory, glory! When Joseph reveals himself to his people and we look upon it and share in that marvelous revelation of the Son of God; our king, the King of Israel, the King of the Jews, the King of the nations of the world, the King of Peace, our Lord and our Savior on the throne forever and forever. "Blessed be His name."
Now while we sing, somebody this morning hour to give his heart to Jesus, would you come and stand by me? Somebody this morning to put his life in the church, into the aisle and down here to the front would you come? Give your pastor your hand? "I have given my heart to God and here I am and here I come." While we sing this song, while the Spirit shall make appeal, while our people tarry for this moment and wait, somebody you trusting Jesus, putting your life in the church, would you make it now while we stand and while we sing?
JOSEPH REVEALED TO HIS BRETHREN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. Life of Joseph and our Lord
2. Pit to the palace, dungeon to the diadem
3. Rejected, sold, numbered with criminals
4. Gentile bride
5. Dispenser of bread, Joseph in the famine, Jesus is the bread of life
II. Genesis 42; first intervention with his brothers
1. Brothers were in despair over the famine
2. Their rough usage – Joseph used rough language with them (42:7)
3. Demanded they return with
4. Brothers would have thought Joseph would be a slave
III. Second intervention
2. Judah’s appeal
3. Joseph reveals himself