When Judah offered to take the place of Benjamin as a lifelong slave, Joseph knew it was time to reveal his identity to his brothers. But first he broke down and wept. What a shock it must have been to them!
“Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried, ‘Have everyone go out from me.’ So there was no man with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard of it. Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?’ But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Please come closer to me.’ And they came closer. And he said, ‘I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.'” ~ Genesis 45:1-8
What grace Joseph gave his brothers! He could now see how all of the pieces of his life fit together perfectly in God’s plan. God had used him to save not only the entire nation of Egypt, but he also was able to rescue his family, over seventy people in all. God used Joseph to keep His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that He would make of them a great nation, more in number than the sand on the seashore. Joseph’s hardships were worked together for good.
Did his brothers wrong him? Definitely. Did he suffer? Horribly. Did he have a long wait for things to get better? Over thirteen years. Did he hold a grudge? NO. He had all the power of Egypt and could have “gotten even with them” in many ways, but he chose to forgive instead. Did he give God the glory? YES. He even comforted his brothers, and he urged them to not be upset with themselves! Only with God’s help could he have done this.
The brothers had even more consequences to pay, for suddenly their brother Joseph was alive. Remember in Genesis 37, they had taken Joseph’s special coat of many colors, smeared blood all over it, and then given it to Jacob and allowed him to believe that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. If they had not confessed their actions to their father in the years that had passed, they certainly were going to have to own up to it now! It probably was an enormous relief, first to be forgiven by Joseph, then to see how God had worked things out, and finally to tell the truth to Jacob and get the evil secret off their chests. But it must have also been difficult; only with God’s help could they have coped with it all.
Whether we have been wronged and have the opportunity to forgive and offer grace, or we are the one who has done the wrong and needs to confess and be forgiven, only with God’s help can we do this! Don’t try to do it in your own strength. Our world is full of people doing just that, and it isn’t working very well, is it?
Remember, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” ~ Philippians 4:13