8 “And Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. 9 And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed of them. And he said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see the nakedness of the land.” 10 They said to him, “No, my lord, your servants have come to buy food. We are all sons of one man. WE have are honest men. Your servants have never been spies.” (Genesis 42:8–11 (ESV)
Joseph recognized his brothers. However, they did not recognize Joseph. Remember, it has been over twenty years. Joseph was 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.
Joseph not only recognized his brothers but he also remembered his dreams from when he was but a teenager (Gen. 37:5-11). Twenty plus years had passed and Joseph experienced many difficulties, but God providentially brought Joseph’s dreams to reality.
Dr. Don Carson writes, “No sooner had Joseph said, ‘God has made me forget … all my father’s household’ (41:51) than his brothers turned up in Egypt. And what was more surprising, considering the many visitors who came to Egypt at that time, Joseph saw them there. He recognized them but, of course, they failed to recognize him.”
Joseph began testing his brothers by immediately accusing them of being spies. He would do this four times (Gen. 42:9, 12, 14, 16). Why did he do this? The most probable answer was to see if his elder brothers had changed. God led Joseph to confront his brothers’ sin and to see if there was true repentance for what they had done to him.
Joseph devised a series of circumstances to test them. His accusations against his brothers would eventually result in Joseph reuniting with the rest of his Hebrew family. This would include not only with his younger brother Benjamin, but also his father Jacob.
Have you ever confronted someone because of their sin? It may have been their sinful behavior in general, or a sin committed against you in particular. Whenever confrontation concerning sin occurs, God commands the more spiritual person to handle the situation in a humble and gracious manner (Galatians 6:1).
Dr. R. C. Sproul explains, “Confronting someone in sin is always difficult. Perhaps you are a parent who must discipline a child. Maybe you are an elder tasked with confronting a church member engaged in unrepentant sin. Whatever the case, it is hard to speak the truth in love when hard truths must be told. But God often uses our confronting of others to lead them to repentance. Do not be afraid to confront sinners, but always do it with compassion and the hope it will produce repentance.”
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Soli deo Gloria!