Genesis 45:1-2. 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:
Emotion long pent up grows violent; and when at last it does burst forth, it cannot be restrained: “He wept aloud.”
Genesis 45:2-3. 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.
What a rush of thoughts must have passed through their minds when they remembered all their unkind behaviour toward him! There is no wonder that “they were troubled at his presence.”
Genesis 45:4. And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you.
He pleads with them, he who was far greater than they—a prince among peasants,—now prays to them; and is it not wonderful that the Lord Jesus, our infinitely-greater Brother, at times pleads with us, even as he said to the woman at the well, “Give me to drink”? Joseph said unto his brethren, “Come near to me, I pray you.”
Genesis 45:4-5, And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, not angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.
“You did very wrong, but I say nothing about that, for I want you to notice how God has over-ruled your action, how your sin has been made to be the means of your preservation and the preservation of many besides: ‘God did send me before you to preserve life.’”
Genesis 45:6. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be eating nor harvest.
There were to be five more dreary years of utter desolation and want.
Genesis 45:7. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
How wonderfully those two things meet in practical harmony,—the free will of man and the predestination of God! Man acts just as freely and just as guiltily as if there were no predestination whatever; and God ordains, arranges, supervises, and over-rules, just as accurately as if there were no free will in the universe. There are some purblind people who only believe one or other of these two truths; yet they are both true, and the one is as true as the other. I believe that much of the theology which is tinged with free will is true, and I know that the teaching which fully proclaims electing love and sovereign grace is also true; and you may find much of both these truths in the Scriptures. The fault lies in trying to compress all truth under either of those two heads. These men were verily guilty for selling their brother, yet God was verily wise in permitting him to be sold. The inference which Joseph draws from their misconduct is, of course, an inference of love. Love may not be always logical, but it is sweetly consoling, as it must have been in this case.
Genesis 45:8. 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.
See how Joseph traces God’s hand in his whole career.
Genesis 45:9. 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:
See how love attracts; Joseph must have his brothers near him, now he wants to have his father also near. “Go up to my father, and say unto him, ‘Come down unto me.’ “See how great love turns pleader again; he who said to his brethren, “Come near to me,” sends to his father the message, “Come down unto me.”
Genesis 45:10. 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:
Our common saying, “Love me, love my dog,” is very true. Love me, love even my flocks and my herds. So the blessing of God extends to all that his chosen people have; not only to their children, but to all that they possess.
Genesis 45:11-13. 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. And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you. 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.
Love is impatient to have the object of its affection brought near. Now we will read two short portions out of the Song of Solomon, from which you will see how love evermore craves for nearness to the loved one. The Song opens thus:—
Genesis 45:9. 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:
Joseph, having made himself known to his brethren, bids them return to their father, and bring him down to Egypt to see his long-lost son.
Genesis 45:10-11. 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: 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.
It is just like Joseph to speak thus kindly, and to put the invitation so attractively to his father: “Thou shalt be near unto me.” That would be the greatest joy of all to old Jacob; and this is the greatest joy to a sinner when he comes to Christ, our great Joseph, “Thou shalt be near unto me.” It is not merely that he gives us the land of Goshen to dwell in, but he promises that we shall be near unto him, and that is best of all.
Genesis 45:12-22. And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you. 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. And he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck, and wept, and Benjamin wept upon his neck. Moreover he kissed all his brethren and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him. And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh’s house, saying, Joseph’s brethren are come: and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye; lade your beasts, and so, get you unto the land of Canaan; 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. 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. Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours.
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. 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.
Benjamin was his full brother, so he loved him best, and gave him most.
Genesis 45:23-24. And to his father he sent after this manner; ten asses laden with the good things of Egypt, and ten she asses laden with corn and bread and meat for his father by the way. So he sent his brethren away, and they departed: and he said unto them, See that ye fall not out by the way.
This was a sure sign that Joseph knew his brethren, and they might well recognize him even by that precept, for their consciences must have told them that it had been their common habit to fall out either with or without occasion, so he bids them not to do so.
Genesis 45:25-28. And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father, 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. 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: and Israel said,
See how quickly the patriarch changes from Jacob into Israel; when his spirit if revived, he becomes Israel.
Genesis 45:28. It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.
Now we are going to read in the Gospel according to John, the fifth chapter, beginning at the twenty-fourth verse.