4 “So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 45:4–8 (ESV)
Joseph continued to address his brothers and to tell them that he indeed was their brother Joseph. He acknowledged the truth that they had sold him into Egyptian slavery. This was a fact that only Joseph, and his ten elder brothers, knew to be true.
However, Joseph had a divine perspective on the events of his life during the previous twenty-two years. He told his brothers not to be angry with themselves or worried about retribution. Joseph understood that God had sovereignly and providentially sent him to Egypt. This was in order to not only preserve the life of the people of Egypt and the surrounding nations, but also the members of Joseph’s own family.
Today’s text reveals that the seven year famine has been in existence for only two years. There were five years remaining in which there would be no sowing or reaping of a harvest. This would mean that Joseph was thirty nine years old (Gen. 37:2; 41:46).
Joseph then said a second time that God had sent him to Egypt. This was to preserve a remnant on earth and to keep alive the many who would survive the famine.
Joseph then told his brothers a third and fourth time that they had not sent him to Egypt, but rather God. It was the LORD who made him a father to Pharaoh, lord of all his house, and a ruler over all the land of Egypt.
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “A father to Pharaoh was a title that belonged to viziers and that designated one who, though unrelated to Pharaoh, nevertheless performed a valuable function and held a high position, which in Joseph’s case was “lord of all Egypt” (v. 9). A new and younger Pharaoh now reigned, Senusert III, c. 1878–1841 B.C.”
Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “Joseph’s words are some of the most important and extensive in all of Scripture on the relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. He refers to the Lord’s activity and intent in his travails four times, affirming his belief in God’s providential governing of history. In reality, his confidence in the Creator’s sovereignty is one factor enabling Joseph to forgive his brothers. In hindsight, he is able to see God’s invisible hand; thus, there is no place for revenge since Joseph knows the Lord used his years of suffering for His good, redemptive plan (v. 5). God used the wicked act of his brothers to advance His will, despite their ignorance. Once more we see the central theme of Joseph’s life, namely that God’s providential rule uses evil, but only for His good ends. His sovereignty is so encompassing that Joseph can even tell his brothers: “It was not you who sent me here, but God” (v. 8).”
As you look upon your life, in what ways do you see the invisible hand of God? Take the opportunity today to remember, reflect and rejoice in the LORD’s providence.
Precious memories, unseen angels
Sent from somewhere to my soul
How they linger, ever near me
And the sacred past unfolds.
Precious memories, how they linger
How they ever flood my soul
In the stillness, of the midnight
Precious sacred scenes unfold.
Soli deo Gloria!