6 “Now Joseph was governor over the land. He was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground. 7 Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them. “Where do you come from?” he said. They said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.” (Genesis 42:6–7 (ESV)
One author writes, “Every long separation is a test: A test to see how powerful or how weak the will of reuniting is.”
Today’s text makes it quite clear that Joseph was in charge of the world-wide food distribution during the seven-year famine (Gen. 41:25-36). This was because the LORD providentially appointed him, through the Pharaoh of Egypt, to be governor over the land (Gen. 41:37-45).
Jacob directed his ten older sons to go to Egypt and buy grain (Gen. 42:1-5). Joseph’s elder brothers came to Egypt along with many others to purchase food. This was because the famine not only affected Egypt, but also the land of Canaan.
Moses writes, “And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground.” The irony here is striking. Joseph’s dreams as a youth (Gen. 37:5-11) become a reality when he is a man. It has taken over twenty years, but the LORD fulfilled His providential plans for Joseph.
Joseph recognized his brothers. However, they did not recognize Joseph. Remember, it has been over twenty years. Joseph is no longer a teenager (Gen. 37:1-2). Additionally, while Joseph’s brothers looked like the Hebrew shepherds they had always been (Gen. 37:1-12), Joseph looked and dressed like an Egyptian (Gen. 41:14, 42). Not only did Joseph appear as an Egyptian, but also an Egyptian ruler.
Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “Pharaoh’s dreams have come to pass (chap. 41), but Joseph is still waiting to see his family again, which would fulfill the dreams of his youth (37:5–11). This fulfillment begins today when his brothers, out of the innumerable multitude of foreigners looking for food, “happen” to come before their once-hated brother instead of one of the numerous officials Joseph would have had under him to help distribute the grain. Yet we know this is no coincidence. God has orchestrated events to make Joseph lord over his brothers (42:6)”
Events unite to bring about the Lord’s plan for His people. They always do.
Dr. Sproul concludes, “A famine “happens” to occur in Canaan and Egypt. Joseph’s brothers “happen” to come before him instead of some other nameless official. Indeed, God is sovereign over all history. Even when things seem out of control and those who hate the church are in power, nothing happens that God cannot use for good. We should therefore be comforted in these troubled times.”
Soli deo Gloria!