Joseph made himself known unto his brethren.I. JUDAH'S PATHETIC APPEAL FOR THE RELEASE OF BENJAMIN (Genesis 44:30-34). In this appeal the following points are made:
1. Jacob's strong attachment to Benjamin.
2. That Benjamin was the mainstay of Jacob in his advanced age.
3. A strong sense of personal honour.
II. JOSEPH'S DEEP EMOTION.
1. Manifested in the tears he shed.
2. Manifested in his eager inquiry concerning his dear father.
3. Manifested also in the desire to take in his brothers to his heart.
III. JOSEPH'S DEVOUT ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF GOD'S GRACIOUS HAND IN ALL HE HAD SUFFERED AND ENJOYED. Lessons:
1. A very touching lesson is here taught the sons and daughters of aged parents concerning their greatest need in their declining years — not expensive clothing or luxurious living, but the manifestation of real, tender, loving sympathy.
2. Joseph's readiness to forgive his brothers, and his deep emotion when he saw their sincere love for his father, contain timely lessons, not only for brothers and sisters according to the flesh, but also for brethren and sisters in Christ..
3. The deep insight into the purposes of the providence of God, and perfect acquiescence in them, and joy that they have wrought out good for others, even though at a cost of personal sacrifice, are fraught with instructive lessons.(1) That special light is given to the obedient.(2) That in this, as in so many other features, Joseph is an eminent type of Christ.
(D. C. Hughes, M. A.)
(F. C. Woodhouse, M. A.)
I. A BROTHER'S PARDON. Joseph's.
1. Of a great injury.(1) To Joseph.(2) To Jacob. The beloved and trusted son taken from him. His heart well nigh broken by the story that was told him.
3. The pardon magnanimously bestowed. Proved by deeds as well as words. Their sin extenuated. He dwells on the good that came out of it, not on the evil that was in it. Tried to soften down their harsh self-censure. The method of professing pardon may detract from its value, and suggest a doubt of its sincerity.
4. Marked by deep affection. He could not repress his emotions, nor conceal his joy. Judah, the darkest character, not excepted.
5. Practically demonstrated. He will henceforth care for them during the famine.
II. A KING'S GRATITUDE. Pharaoh's.
1. It had been already proved. He had exalted Joseph.
2. He now cares for Joseph's friends. Royally lays himself out for their present good. Strange contrast to the conduct of many kings towards their deliverers and helpers (Charles I. and Earl Stafford; Charles II., and his treatment of the faithful adherents of his house in its misfortunes; also David and Barzillai).
3. It was bountifully expressed. Will have all Joseph's family invited to Egypt. Promises that they shall have " the fat of the land." Sends with the invitation the means of conveyance. Enjoins the free use of means and subsistence. "Regard not your stuff," &c. (ver. 20).
III. A FATHER'S ZOO. Jacob's.
1. Imagine Jacob's home. The old man of 130 years, feeble, doubtful, fearful, apprehensive. Waiting for the return of his sons. Anxious concerning Benjamin.
2. Picture the arrival at home. They are all there. Benjamin amongst them. Simon also. Joyful greeting.
3. They tell their story. Good news. Joseph yet alive! governor of Egypt.
4. Jacob's doubts. He is suspicious of his sons.
5. The arrival of the waggons convinces him. His spirit revives. His great joy. New hopes. He will see Joseph again, and in such a robe of office as his affection could not have provided. What greater joy can a father know than that excited by good news of absent children. Those who leave home with good principles the most likely to create such joy. Religion supplies the only true basis of character. The Lord was with Joseph. He will be with us in our wanderings, if we begin them with Him. Learn: Let love be without dissimulation. Forgive injuries and prove the reality of forgiveness.
(J. C. Gray.)
I. Now, of course, it would have been very easy for him at once to have made himself known to his brethren, to have fallen on their necks and assured them of his forgiveness. But he has counsels of love at once wiser and deeper than would have lain in such a ready and off-hand declaration of forgiveness. His purpose is to prove whether they are different men, or, if not, to make them different men from what they were when they practised that deed of cruelty against himself. He feels that he is carrying out, not his own purpose, but Cod's, and this gives him confidence in hazarding all, as he does not hazard it, in bringing this matter to a close.
II. Two things were necessary here: the first that he should have the opportunity of observing their conduct to their younger brother, who had now stepped into his place, and was the same favourite with his father as Joseph once had been; the second, that by some severe treatment, which should bear a more or less remote resemblance to their treatment of himself, he should prove whether he could call from them a lively remembrance and a penitent confession of their past guilt.
III. The dealings of Joseph with his brethren are, to a great extent, the very pattern of God's dealings with men. God sees us careless, in easily forgiving ourselves our old sins; and then, by trial and adversity and pain, He brings these sins to our remembrance, causes them to find us out, and at length extracts from us a confession, "we are verily guilty." And then, when tribulation has done its work, He is as ready to confirm His love to us as ever was Joseph to confirm his love to his brethren.
I. THE ENDURING STRENGTH AND WORTH OF FAMILY AFFECTION. Nothing more beautiful in man than this. Age does not congeal it, nor death destroy it. A holy, perennial fire. It begets gentleness, patience, long suffering, forgiveness of injury, oblivion of wrong.
II. THE CONSTANT FEAR WROUGHT BY CONSCIOUS GUILT. The tender emotion of Joseph was not shared by his brethren. His declaration, "I am Joseph," drew from them no glad expressions of joy. They were silent from dismay. "His brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence." Conscious guilt filled them with alarm and anxious questioning. Could he ever forgive them? Since he had them now in his power, and he had become so great, would he not take vengeance upon them? Their sense of guilt had not perished or weakened with time. It was as enduring as Joseph's love.
III. GOD CHOOSES THE WICKED TO ACCOMPLISH HIS DIVINE PURPOSES. Joseph had been sold, from malice, by his brethren into Egypt. And yet God had sent him there. It seems like an irreconcilable contradiction of facts, and yet the thing alleged was true. And our view of the world's events is inadequate unless we believe that God in a similar way always takes a controlling part in the affairs of men. Did this fact lessen the guilt of the sons of Jacob? Did Joseph mean that they were excused on account of it? Certainly not. Their guilt was according to their intention.
IV. THE INVITED FIND GRACE BECAUSE OF THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO THE GOOD, For his father's sake and for Benjamin's sake, Joseph forgave them all they had done to him. What magnanimity of spirit! It was as if he had blotted out their sin and remembered it no more. And his efforts to allay and banish their fears assured them that from him they had nothing to dread. It was a beautiful fore-gleam of the grace of the Gospel. So Christ has sought to assuage our guilty fears by speaking to us of His Father and our Father, and by owning us as His brethren. Well is it for us that we are connected in this way by ties of relationship with the good of earth and sky. If we stood alone, unconnected with others whose prayers and merit move heaven's favour in our behalf to give us further opportunity to repent, or which win for us undeserved consideration from our fellow-men — who show us kindness for the sake of a father, or a mother, or a sister, or some other — it would be far worse with us. But their merit, like charity, covers a multitude of sins in us. We are clad in a borrowed grace, derived from them, and our faults are excused and borne with, and our meagre virtues rated far above their real value.
V. THE GROUND OF PEACE FOR WRONG-DOERS. When Joseph had fallen upon Benjamin's neck and wept, and had kissed all his brethren and wept upon them, "after that his brethren talked with him." The speechless terror exhibited by them at first then vanished away. What cured their trouble of heart? It was the assurance they had that Joseph looked upon them graciously for their father's and brother's sake, and that he entirely forgave their sin. This assurance had been wrought in them by the words and acts of Joseph. The kiss he had given them, and his tears of joy, formed an indubitable token of pardon and reconciliation. In his treatment of them we have, therefore, a hint of God's treatment of men for their sin, and of the way a guilty soul may find peace. Two things are required:
1. A worthy Mediator to whom we are so related that His merit will procure us Divine favour.
2. Indubitable evidence of acceptance and pardon through Him. The Christ was such a Mediator. He was "holy, harmless, undefiled,... higher than the heavens," and "not ashamed to call us brethren." Through our relationship with Him as brethren, we are invested with His righteousness.
(A. H. Currier.)
I. THE EXCELLENCE OF FORGIVENESS.
II. THE SACREDNESS OF FAMILY TIES. The relation of children to their parents, and of brothers and sisters to each other is peculiarly sacred. Other connections we may determine for ourselves; this is appointed by God. It brings great opportunities and great risks. There are no others we can hurt so sorely, or make so glad, as those in our own household.
III. THIS STORY ILLUSTRATES CHRIST'S FORGIVENESS. The great Elder Brother suffers at our hands; yet loves us when we will not love Him, and waits for years till our need shall bring us to His feet. Even then He cannot take us at once to His bosom. The sense of guilt must be awakened, the tears of penitence flow.
(P. B. Davis.)
I. THE RIPENESS OF THE TIME.
II. HIS DELICACY OF FEELING.
III. HIS ENTIRE FORGIVENESS.
1. He strives to prevent remorse.
2. He bids them see in their past history the plan of God.
(T. H. Leale.)
I. JOSEPH'S INTERVIEW WITH HIS BRETHREN,
1. Observe the delicacy of Joseph's feelings in removing all the witnesses of his emotion. Feeling, to be true and deep, must be condensed by discipline.
2. Notice the entireness of Joseph's forgiveness.(1) This may be inferred from his desire to prevent remorse (ver. 5).(2) A further proof of the entireness of Joseph's forgiveness is, that he referred the past to God's will (ver. 8). Upon this we have three remarks to make. First, that it is utterly impossible for us to judge of any event, whether it is a blessing or misfortune, from simply looking at the event itself; because we do not know the whole. Fancy the buying of a slave in a cave in Canaan; and straightway there springs up in your breast a feeling of indignation. Pass on a few years, and we find Joseph happy, honoured, and beloved; two nations at least are saved by him from famine. Secondly, we remark how God educes good from evil, and that man is only an instrument in His hands. A secular historian, treating of mighty events, always infers that there has been some plan steadily pursued; he would have traced step by step how it all came about, and referred it all to Joseph. But from the inspired history we find that Joseph knew not one step before him. Thirdly, we remark that there is a danger in the too easy acquiescence in the fact that good comes from evil; for we begin to say, Evil then is God's agent, to do evil must be right; and so we are landed in confusion. Before this had taken place, had Joseph's brethren said, "Out of this, good will come, let us sell our brother," they would have been acting against their conscience; but after the event it was but faith to refer it to God's intention. Had they done this before, it would have been presumption. But to feel that good has come through you, but not by your will, is humiliating. You feel that the evil is all yours, and the good is God's.
II. THE SUMMONS OF JACOB BY PHARAOH.
1. Remark, Pharaoh rejoiced with Joseph (ver. 16). Love begets love. Joseph had been faithful, and Pharaoh honours and esteems him.
2. The advice given by Joseph to his brethren (ver. 24). We should do well to ponder on Joseph's advice, for when that wondrous message was given to the world that God had pardoned man, men at once began to quarrel with each other. They began to throw the blame on the Jew alone for having caused His death; they began to quarrel respecting the terms of salvation.
3. Last]y, we remark the incredulity of Jacob, "his heart fainted." There are two kinds of unbelief, that which disbelieves because it hates the truth, and that which disbelieves because the truth is apparently too glorious to be received. The latter was the unbelief of Jacob; it may be an evidence of weakness, but not necessarily an evidence of badness.
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
I. DISCLOSURE. "I am Joseph." Were ever the pathos of simplicity, and the simplicity of pathos, more nobly expressed than in these two words? (They are but two in the Hebrew.) Has the highest dramatic genius ever winged an arrow which goes more surely to the heart than that? The question, which hurries after the disclosure, Seems strange and needless; but it is beautifully self-revealing, as expressive of agitation, and as disclosing a son's longing, and perhaps, too, as meant to relieve the brothers' embarrassment, and, as it were, to wrap the keen edge of the disclosure in soft wool.
II. CONSCIENCE-STRICKEN SILENCE. An illustration of the profitlessness of all crime. Sin is, as one of its Hebrew names tells us, missing the mark, whether we think of it as fatally failing to reach the ideal of conduct, or as always, by a Divine nemesis, failing to hit even the shabby end it aims at. "Every rogue is a roundabout fool." They put Joseph in the pit, and here he is on a throne. They have stained their souls, and embittered their father's life for twenty-two long years, and the dreams have come true, and all their wickedness has not turned the stream of the Divine purpose any more than the mud dam built by a child diverts the Mississippi. One flash has burned up their whole sinful past, and they stand scorched and silent among the ruins. So it always is. Sooner or later the same certainty of the futility of his sin will overwhelm every sinful man, and dumb self-condemnation will stand in silent acknowledgment of evil desert before the throne of the Brother, who is now the prince and the judge, on whose fiat hangs life or death. To see Christ enthroned should be joy; but it may be turned into terror and silent anticipation of His just condemnation.
III. ENCOURAGEMENT AND COMPLETE FORGIVENESS (vers. 4-8). More than natural sweetness and placability must have gone to the making of such a temper of forgiveness. He must have been living near the Fountain of all mercy to have had so full a cup of it to offer. Because he had caught a gleam of the Divine pardon, he becomes a mirror of it; and we may fairly see in this ill-used brother, yearning over the half-sullen sinners, and seeking to open a way for his forgiveness to steal into their hearts, and rejoicing over his very sorrows which have fitted him to save them alive, and satisfy them in the days of famine, an adumbration of our Elder Brother's forgiving love and saving tenderness.
IV. MESSAGE TO JACOB.
1. It bespeaks a simple nature, unspoiled by prosperity, to delight thus in his father's delight, and to wish the details of all his splendour to be told him. A statesman who takes most pleasure in his elevation because of the good he can do by it, and because it will please the old people at home, must be a pure and lovable man. The command has another justification in the necessity to assure his father of the wisdom of so great a change. God had sent him into the promised land, and a very plain Divine injunction was needed to warrant his leaving it. Such a one was afterwards given in vision; but the most emphatic account of his son's honour and power was none the less required to make the old Jacob willing to abandon so much, and go into such strange conditions.
2. We have another instance of the difference between man's purposes and God's counsel in this message. Joseph's only thought is to afford his family temporary shelter during the coming five years of famine. Neither he nor they knew that this was the fulfilment of the covenant with Abraham, and the bringing of them into the land of their oppression for four centuries. No shadow of that future was cast upon their joy, and yet the steady march of God's plan was effected along the path which they were ignorantly preparing. The road-maker does not know what bands of mourners, or crowds of holiday makers, or troops of armed men, may pass along it.
V. THE KISS OF FULL RECONCILIATION AND FRANK COMMUNION. The history of Jacob's household had hitherto been full of sins against family life. Now, at last, they taste the sweetness of fraternal love. Joseph, against whom they had sinned, takes the initiative, flinging himself with tears on the neck of Benjamin, his own mother's son, nearer to him than all the others, crowding his pent-up love in one long kiss. Then, with less of passionate affection, but more of pardoning love, he kisses his contrite brothers. The offender is ever less ready to show love than the offended. The first step towards reconciliation, whether of man with man or of man with God, comes from the aggrieved. We always hate those whom we have harmed; and if enmity were only ended by the advances of the wrong-doer, it would be perpetual. The injured has the prerogative of praying the injurer to be reconciled. So was it in Pharaoh's throne-room on that long past day; so is it still in the audience chamber of heaven. "He that might the vantage best have took, found out the remedy." "We love Him, because He first loved us."
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
1. It is an expression of great humility. The governor of Egypt remembered that he was Joseph, a Hebrew — the son of an old pilgrim who now sojourned in Canaan, and the brother of these plain and vulgar strangers who depended on his goodness and solicited his clemency.
2. Here is soft and gentle reproof. He hints at their crime, but without menaces or reproaches. He alludes to it as if he only aimed to palliate it.
3. Here is the language of forgiveness.
(1) (2) 4. Here is a pious reference of his brethren to the wonderful works of Providence. Your Joseph, whom you had doomed to death or perpetual slavery, is employed of God to preserve you and your families from misery and ruin. 5. This is an expression of filial affection; for mark what immediately follows: "Doth my father yet live?" How tender, how affectionate, how dutiful the question. 6. Here is an expression of general benevolence. "I am Joseph, whom ye sold in Egypt God did send me before you, to preserve life." He considered himself as promoted to power, not for his own sake, but for the public good; and to this end he applied the power which he possessed. (J. Lathrop, D. D.)
(2) 4. Here is a pious reference of his brethren to the wonderful works of Providence. Your Joseph, whom you had doomed to death or perpetual slavery, is employed of God to preserve you and your families from misery and ruin. 5. This is an expression of filial affection; for mark what immediately follows: "Doth my father yet live?" How tender, how affectionate, how dutiful the question. 6. Here is an expression of general benevolence. "I am Joseph, whom ye sold in Egypt God did send me before you, to preserve life." He considered himself as promoted to power, not for his own sake, but for the public good; and to this end he applied the power which he possessed. (J. Lathrop, D. D.)
4. Here is a pious reference of his brethren to the wonderful works of Providence. Your Joseph, whom you had doomed to death or perpetual slavery, is employed of God to preserve you and your families from misery and ruin.
5. This is an expression of filial affection; for mark what immediately follows: "Doth my father yet live?" How tender, how affectionate, how dutiful the question.
6. Here is an expression of general benevolence. "I am Joseph, whom ye sold in Egypt God did send me before you, to preserve life." He considered himself as promoted to power, not for his own sake, but for the public good; and to this end he applied the power which he possessed.
(J. Lathrop, D. D.)
1. The modes in which our Lord makes Himself known to men are various as their lives and characters. But frequently the forerunning choice of a sinner by Christ is discovered in such gradual and ill-understood dealings as Joseph used with those brethren. It is the closing of a net around them. They seem to be doomed men — men who are never at all to get disentangled from their old sin. If any one is in this baffled and heartless condition, fearing even good lest it turn to evil in his hand; afraid to take the money that lies in the sack's mouth, because he feels there is a snare in it; if any one is sensible that life has become unmanageable in his hands, and that he is being drawn on by an unseen power which he does not understand, then let him consider in the scene before us how such a condition ends or may end. There is always in Christ a greater love seeking the friendship of a sinner than there is in the sinner seeking for Christ.
2. In finding their brother again, those sons of Jacob found also their own better selves which they had long lost. They had been living in a lie, unable to look the past in the face, and so becoming more and more false. Trying to leave their sin behind them, they always found it rising in the path before them, and again they had to resort to some new mode of laying this uneasy ghost. So, too, do many of us live as if yet we had not found the life eternal, the kind of life that we can always go on with — rather as those who are but making the best of a life which can never be very valuable, nor ever perfect. There seem voices calling us back, assuring us we must yet retrace our steps, that there are passages in our past with which we are not done, that there is an inevitable humiliation and penitence awaiting us. It is through that we can alone get back to the good we once saw and hoped for; there were right desires and resolves in us once, views of a well-spent life which have been forgotten and pressed out of remembrance, but all these rise again in the presence of Christ.
3. A third suggestion is made by this narrative. Joseph commanded from his presence all who might be merely curious spectators of his burst of feeling, and might, themselves unmoved, criticise this new feature of the governor's character. In all love there is a similar reserve.
(M. Dods, D. D.)
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
(A. M. Symington, D. D.)
1. to test their character, to see whether they repented of their past life, whether they were now good sons to Jacob, and good brothers to Benjamin;
2. If their disposition was not changed, to change it.
Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you.
I. In order that the brothers may be really drawn near to Joseph, they have first to be separated from him by their own sin.
II. The next step towards bringing them near is their own want.
III. When they get into Joseph's presence they are suddenly subjected to the most unlooked-for and crushing trials.
IV. They are smitten to the heart with the recollection of bygone sins; these are brought to their remembrance as sins against their brother.
V. They were alone with Joseph when he made himself known to them.
(W. Hay Aitken, M. A.)
I. THERE IS AN ILLUSTRATION HERE OFFERED ON THE RETRIBUTIVE POWER OF AN AWAKENED CONSCIENCE.
II. NOTICE, ALSO, THE ILLUSTRATION OFFERED OF THE SEEKING LOVE OF GOD. It is Joseph who makes all the advances here. "I pray you": it is the monarch who invites, the judge who pleads. "Without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better." It was always so. Adam had hardly eaten of the forbidden fruit before the voice of the Lord was heard in the garden asking for him. Our Maker takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but would rather that the wicked should turn unto Him and live.
III. HERE, TOO, IS AN ILLUSTRATION OF THE EXACT DESIGN OF THE GOSPEL. Men need many things: as those brethren needed food then, for themselves, their families, and their beasts. But Joseph knew that temporary relief would amount to little. What they most wanted for all the long future was simply himself in reconciliation. "Come near to me" is exactly what Jesus Christ has always been saying to such as labour and are heavy laden.
IV. So COMPLETE IS OUR ILLUSTRATION IN THIS STORY, THAT IT LIKEWISE EXHIBITS THE NEED OF LAW-WORK IN REDEMPTION. Much as he yearned over them, he would not even for an instant relieve them of the salutary consciousness of so grievous a sin. Hence his earliest words were: "I am Joseph, your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt." No doubt he meant to bring these men into greatest perplexity, and fill them with consternation. The first revelation of the Gospel is very much like a reiteration of the law. In some respects the rays from Calvary resemble those from Sinai; just as in some respects sunshine resembles lightning; but sunshine never strikes, and lightning often clears out a poison of impurity and so makes sunshine more welcome.
V. MARK THE EXCELLENT ILLUSTRATION WE HAVE HERE OF THE REVELATION OF DIVINE GRACE. When those brothers in that awful interview stood suppliant and frightened at the feet of the ruler, there was pictured something very like the literal fulfilment of a dream they must have remembered, when Joseph told them of the eleven wheat-sheaves he had seen bowing before the one upright. "I am your brother": this one disclosure covered the whole ground. Sold — but a brother; a monarch — but a brother; a judge — but a brother! "I am Joseph": here he probably began to talk in their own language; they heard the familiar accents of their home-speech. Benjamin recognizes his own mother's son.
VI. THERE IS AN ILLUSTRATION IN THIS STORY OF THE COMPLETENESS OF PARDON, AND RELIEF FROM PAIN. Watch how solicitous Joseph is lest his brothers should be "grieved or angry with themselves " any longer over that old, acknowledged, but not forgotten sin. When our Saviour perceives that true repentance is already in the heart of a sinner; when He knows that he understands his whole responsibility for his sins; then He is prepared to administer for his comfort some of the sweet assurances he has of God's wisdom in causing even man's wrath to praise Him. Christ seems to say then: "I am the Lord of glory, whom ye with wicked hands have crucified and slain; but God has over-ruled even this crime to His own glory and your redemption; be not grieved with yourself therefore, over-much, for Divine foreknowledge sent Me before you to preserve life."
VII. SEE HERE WHAT AN ILLUSTRATION WE HAVE OF THE SINFULNESS AND FOLLY OF REJECTING THE GOSPEL. Of course, there is nothing in the story which suggests the thought; but there is room for imagination just to make the conjecture: how would it seem? Suppose Simeon, just out of prison, had turned his back upon Joseph's offer! Suppose Benjamin, just delivered from accusation, had refused to have Joseph's arms around his neck! Suppose Judah, his eyes still moist with pleading, had rejected Joseph's kiss! And some have resisted the loving pleading and gracious tenderness of the Son of God who gave His life a ransom for us.
(Charles S. Robinson, D. D.)
I. We think that the condition and posture of Judah and his brethren at the feet of the throne of Joseph, trembling in alarm, well describe THE CONDITION AND POSITION OF EVERY TRULY AWAKENED SINNER.
1. By different methods Joseph had at last awakened the consciences of his ten brethren. The point which seemed to have been brought out most prominently before their consciences was this: "We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us." And though, in the speech which Judah made, it was not necessary to accuse themselves of crime, yet in the confession, "God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants," Joseph could see evidently enough that the recollection of the pit and of the sale to the Ishmaelites was vividly before their mind's eye. Now, when the Lord the Holy Ghost arouses sinners' consciences, this is the great sin which he brings to mind: "Of sin because they believed not on Me." Once the careless soul thought it had very little to answer for: "I have not done much amiss," said he; "a speedy reformation may wipe out all that has been awry, and my faults will soon be forgotten and forgiven"; but now, on a sudden, the conscience perceives that the soul is guilty of despising, rejecting, and slaughtering Christ.
2. A second thought, however, which tended to make Joseph's brethren feel in a wretched plight was this: that they now discovered that they were in Joseph's hands. There stood Joseph, second to none but Pharaoh in all the empire of Egypt. Legions of warriors were at his beck and command; if he should say, "take these men, bind them hand and foot, or cut them in pieces," none could interpose; he was to them as a lion, and they were as his prey, which he could rend to pieces at his will. Now to the awakened sinner, this also is a part of his misery: that he is entirely in the hands of that very Christ whom he once despised; for that Christ who died has now become the judge of the quick and dead, He has power over all flesh, that He may give eternal life to as many as His Father has given Him. The Father judgeth no man, He has committed all judgment to the Son. Dost thou see this, sinner, He whom thou despised is thy Master?
3. Under a sense of all these things — note what the ten brethren did. They began to plead. Ah! nothing makes a man pray like a sense of sin.
II. We turn, however, now to remark, that THE SINGULARLY ROUGH BEHAVIOUR OF JOSEPH IS A NOTABLE REPRESENTATION OF THE WAY IN WHICH CHRIST DEALS WITH SOULS UNDER CONVICTION OF SIN. Joseph always was their brother, always loved them, had a heart full of compassion to them even when he called them spies. Kind words were often hastening to his lips, yet for their good he showed himself to be as a stranger and even as an enemy, so that he might bring them very low and prostrate before the throne. Jesus Christ often does this with truly awakened souls whom He means to save. Perhaps to some of you who are to-day conscious of guilt but not of mercy, Christ seems as a stern and angry Judge; you think of Him as one who can by no means spare the guilty; your only idea of Him is of one who would say to you, "Get thee behind Me, Satan, thou savourest not the things that be of God." You went to Him in prayer; but instead of getting an answer He seemed to shut up your prayer in prison and keep it like Simeon bound before your eyes. Yea, instead of telling you that there was mercy, He said to you as with a harsh voice, "It is not meet to take the children's bread and cast it unto dogs." He appeared to shut his ear to your petitions and to hear none of your requests, and to say to you, "Except ye renounce a right eye sin and a right arm pleasure, and give up your Benjamin delights, ye shall see My face no more," and you have come to think, poor soul, that Christ is hard and stern, and whereas He is ever the gentle Mediator receiving sinners and eating with them, whereas His usual voice is "Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest," to you He seemeth no such person, for He has put on a disguise, and ye understand not who and what He is. But you will perceive, brethren, in reading the narrative, that even when Joseph disguised himself there was still much kindness discoverable in his conduct; so to the awakened sinner, even while Jesus appears to deal hardly, there is something sweet and encouraging amid it all. Do you not remember what Joseph did for his brethren? Though he was their judge he was their host too; he invited them to a great feast; he gave to Benjamin five times as much as to any of them; and they feasted even at the king's table, So has it been with you. Christ has rebuked and chastened you, but still He has sent you messes 'from his royal table. Ay, and there is another thing He has done for you, He has given you corn to live upon while under bondage. You would have despaired utterly if it had not been for some little comfort that He afforded you; perhaps you would have put an end to your life — you might bare gone desperately into worse sin than before, had it not been that He filled your sack at seasons with the corn of Egypt. But mark, He has never taken any of your money yet, and He never will. He has always put your money in the sack's mouth. You have come with your resolutions and with your good deeds, but when He has given you comfort He has always taken care to show you that He did not confer it because of any good thing you had in your hands. When you went down and brought double money with you, yet the double money too was returned. He would have nothing of you; He has taught you as much as that, and you begin to feel now that if He should bless you, it must be without money and without price. Ay, poor soul, and there is one other point upon which thine eye may rest with pleasure; He has sometimes spoken to thee comfortably. Did not Joseph say to Benjamin, "God be gracious unto thee, my son"? And so, sometimes, under a consoling sermon, though as yet you are not saved, you have had a few drops of comfort. Oh! ye have gone sometimes out of the house of prayer as light as the birds of the air, and though you could not say " He is mine and I am His," yet you had a sort of inkling that the match would come off one day. He had said — "God be gracious to thee, my son." You half thought, though you could not speak it loud enough to let your heart distinctly hear it, you half thought that the day would come when your sins would be forgiven; when the prisoner should leap to lose his chains; when you should know Joseph your brother to have accepted and loved your soul. I say, then, Christ disguises himself to poor awakened sinners just as Joseph did, but even amidst the sternness of His manner for awhile, there is such a sweet mixture of love, that no troubled one need run into despair.
III. JOSEPH AFTERWARDS REVEALED HIMSELF TO HIS BRETHREN, AND SO THE LORD JESUS DOES IN DUE TIME SWEETLY REVEAL HIMSELF TO POOR CONSCIENCE-STRICKEN PENITENT SINNERS.
1. Notice that this discovery was made secretly. Christ does not show Himself to sinners in a crowd; every man must see the love of Christ for himself; we go to hell in bundles, but we go to heaven one by one. Each man must personally know in his own heart his own guilt; and privately and secretly, where no other heart can join with him, he must hear words of love from Christ. "Go and sin no more." "Thy sins which are many are all forgiven thee."
2. Mark, that as this was done in secret, the first thing Joseph showed them was his name. "I am Joseph." Blessed is that day to the sinner when Christ says to him, "I am Jesus, I am the Saviour"; when the soul discerns instead of the lawgiver, the Redeemer; when it looks to the wounds which its own sin has made, and sees the ransom-price flowing in drops of gore; looks to the head its own iniquity had crowned with thorns, and sees beaming there a crown of glory provided for the sinner.
3. Having revealed his name, the next thing he did was to reveal his relationship — "I am Joseph, your brother." Oh, blessed is that heart which sees Jesus to be its brother, bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh, the son of Mary as well as the Son of God.
4. And then will you please to notice, that having thus proved his affection, he gave them an invitation to approach. "Come near to me, I pray you." You are getting away in the corner. You want to hide away in the chamber alone; you do not want to tell anybody ,about your sorrow. Jesus says, "Come near to Me, I pray you. Do not hold your griefs away from Me. Tell Me what it is you want. Confess to Me your guilt; ask Me for pardon, if you want it. Come near to Me, do not be afraid. I could not smite with a hand that bought you; I could not spurn you with the foot that was nailed for you to the tree. Come to Me!" Ah! this is the hardest work in the world, to get a sinner to come near to Christ.
5. I want you to notice again, having given the invitation, what consolation Joseph gave! He did not say, "I am not angry with you; I forgive you"; he said something sweeter than that — "Be not angry with yourselves," as much as to say, "As for me, ye need not question about that: be not grieved nor angry with yourselves." So my blessed, my adorable Master, says to a poor, cast down, dejected sinner — "As for My forgiving you, that is done. My heart is made of tenderness, My bowels melt with love; forgive yourself; be not grieved nor angry with yourself: it is true you have sinned, but I have died; it is true you have destroyed yourself, but I have saved you."
6. Last of all, having thus given them the consolation, he gave a quietus for their understanding in an explanation. He says, "It was not you, it was God that sent me hither." So doth Christ say to the poor soul that feels itself guilty of the Lord's crucifixion. "It was not you," says He, "it was God that sent Me to preserve your lives with a great deliverance." Man was the second agent in Christ's death, but God was the great first worker, for He was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God; man did it to destroy righteousness, but God did it to save even the ungodly. Man hath the crime, but God hath the triumphing; man rules, but God over-rules.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves.
Homilist.Is it allowable, in any case, to forgive ourselves? Some of those who have a proper sense of man's responsibility to his Maker would be inclined at first to say, No. Most of those whose views of man's responsibility are inadequate would at once reply, Yes. It is only too evident, in fact, that they do forgive themselves where they ought not. But does it follow that their reply can never, in any case, be correct? The text implies, on the one hand, that we ought to grieve for our sins; and, on the other, that there is a proper limit to grief.
I. LET US CONSIDER OUR SINS IN THEIR ASPECT TOWARDS GOD, the most serious aspect of all. Acts of enmity and rebellion, treating God's law with dishonour and scorn. Cause enough here for being grieved and angry with ourselves. Yet, if these sins are repented of, and if we have true faith in the Redeemer's blood, there is an appointed balm for this wound.
II. THE EFFECTS OF OUR SINS UPON MAN. "One sinner destroyeth much good" — like an infectious disease introduced into a community. There is not a greater murderer in existence than the man who, through neglect or obstinacy, should introduce a fever into a city. Is the man very much better who sins against other men's souls? Yet we have done this, all of us, in our time; we have sinned against many a soul, and we have occasioned many a pang and many a sin by our sins. On this account, therefore, it well becomes us to be grieved; and yet, as before, not to grieve in the way of despair. For if our sins have been repented of and forgiven, they are not the things that they were, either in God's sight or in their effects upon men.
Christian Age.It were a mockery to tell us that we should have safety by the hand of Omnipotence, in regard to the powers of irrational nature; but that in all that concerns the free or the wicked actions of men, we must rely on ourselves or on chance. It were a crippled and insufficient Providence which should guard us against the serpent or the tornado, but which should leave us to ourselves the moment a moral and responsible agent came upon the stage. Yet this is the strange uncomfortable doctrine which prompts the language heard in many a Christian circle. Which of us has not listened to such words as these: "I could bear this trial if it were ordered of God, but it proceeds from man. It is not Providential, but from wicked human beings." There is in this a sad confusion. Such a government as is here assumed would be no Providence at all; and would render all rule impossible, as excluding the very agencies which are most important. And we venture to say that the Bible teaches no such doctrine. While it abhors the thought of making God the author of sin, it does not exclude sinful acts from His wise and holy plan. While it evermore denies God's participation in the evil of wicked deeds, it still asserts that, in the directing and governing of such deeds, there is a sovereign Providence, working out its own wise and holy ends: "Man's goings are of the Lord; how then can a man understand his own way?" "A man's heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps." The wrath of man shall praise Him, and the remainder of wrath He will restrain. Let it be clearly fixed in our minds, as the only true philosophy of this subject, that an act may be wicked as to the intent of its agent, and yet its result may be really intended by God. Were it not so we could have no relief under our worst sufferings, namely, those which we endure from depraved and malignant human creatures. But these also are Providential. Joseph's brethren committed a great sin. This none can deny, so far as they were concerned. Yet was it strictly and particularly Providential: "So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God."
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
Moral and Religious Anecdotes.Archbishop Cranmer appeared almost alone in the higher classes as the friend of truth in evil times, and a plot was formed to take away his life. The providence of God, however, so ordered it that the papers which would have completed the plan were intercepted and traced to their authors, one of whom lived in the archbishop's family, and the other he had greatly served. He took these men apart in his palace, and told them that some persons in his confidence had disclosed his secrets, and even accused him of heresy. They loudly censured such villainy, and declared the traitors to be worthy of death; one of them adding, that if an executioner was wanted he would perform the office himself. Struck with their perfidy, after lifting up his voice to heaven, lamenting the depravity of man, and thanking God for his preservation, he produced their letters, and inquired if they knew them. They now fell on their knees, confessed their crimes, and implored forgiveness. Cranmer mildly expostulated with them on the evil of their conduct, forgave them, and never again alluded to their treachery. His forgiveness of injuries was so well known, that it became a byword, "Do my lord of Canterbury an ill-turn, and you make him your friend for ever."
(Moral and Religious Anecdotes.)
God did send me before you. —
I. That God governs the world we do not — we dare not — doubt; but it is equally true that He governs in a way which we should not have expected, and that much of His handiwork appears strange. So strange, indeed, that we know that it has been in all times, and is in our time, easy to say, God cares not, God sees not; or even to adopt the bolder language of the fool, and say "There is no God." Scriptural illustrations of the same kind of contradiction as we have in the text are to be found —(1) in the case of Esau and Jacob;(2) in the manner in which the hardheartedness and folly of Pharaoh were made to contribute to the carrying out of God's designs concerning the Israelites;(3) in the circumstances of our Lord's sorrowful life on earth, and especially the circumstances connected with His shameful and yet life-giving death.
II. Our own lives supply us with illustrations of the same truth. Who cannot call to mind cases in which God's providence has brought about results in the strangest way, educing good from evil, turning that which seemed to be ruin into blessing, making even the sins and follies of men to declare His glory and to forward the spiritual interests of their brethren? We see human causes producing effects, but we may also see God's hand everywhere; all things living and moving in Him; no sparrow falling without His leave; no hair of one of His saints perishing.
(Bishop Harvey Goodwin.)
I. The story of Joseph is to all men for ever the best proof of the working of the hand of Providence.
II. As through the life of Joseph, so through our life, there are threads which connect the different scenes and bind together the destinies of the different actors.
III. This history and the inspired commentary on it in Psalm 105. teach us the wonderful continuity of God's plan and the oneness of the thread that binds together the histories of Israel and of Egypt.
1. God's absolute control over all creatures and events.
2. That while sinners are encouraged to hope in His mercy, they are left without excuse for their sin.
3. That God orders all human affairs with a view to the preservation of His sacred and gifted family — the Church.
I. We are to consider, THAT THE SCRIPTURE DOES ASCRIBE THE ACTIONS OF MEN BOTH TO THEMSELVES AND TO GOD. It will be universally allowed that the Scripture ascribes the actions of men to themselves. It ascribes to Abel his faith, to Cain his unbelief, to Job his patience, to Moses his meekness. Having just premised this, I proceed to adduce instances in which the Scripture ascribes the actions of men to God as well as to themselves. The first instance that occurs is in the history of Joseph.
II. THY PROPRIETY OF ASCRIBING HUMAN ACTIONS TO BOTH HUMAN AND DIVINE AGENCY. Human agency is always inseparably connected with Divine agency. And though it may be proper in some cases to speak of man's agency alone, and of God's agency alone, yet it is always proper to ascribe the actions of men not only to themselves, but to God. The propriety of the Scripture phraseology on this subject is so plain and obvious, that it is strange so many have objected against it, and endeavoured to explain it away. But since this is the case, it seems very necessary to show —
III. THE IMPORTANCE OF ASCRIBING THE ACTIONS OF MEN TO GOD, AS WELL AS TO THEMSELVES. We have no reason to suppose that the sacred writers would have used such a mode of speaking, unless it were necessary and important. It is the design of God, in all His works, to set His own character, and the character of all His rational and accountable creatures, in the truest and strongest light. This leads me to observe —
1. It is a matter of importance that the actions of men should be ascribed to themselves. They are real and proper agents in all their voluntary exercises and exertions.
2. The importance of ascribing men's actions to God as well as to themselves. He is really concerned in all their actions; and it is as important that His agency should be brought into view as that theirs should be brought into view; for His character can no more be known without ascribing His agency to Himself, than their characters can be known without ascribing their agency to themselves.Improvement:
1. In view of this subject, we learn when it is proper to ascribe the actions of men to themselves, and when it is proper to ascribe them to God. Whenever men are required or forbidden to act, and whenever they are approved or condemned for acting, there is a propriety in ascribing their actions to themselves, without any reference to the Divine efficiency. It is their own free, voluntary agency, which alone constitutes their virtue or vice, and which renders them worthy of either praise or blame. Though they always act under a Divine influence, yet that influence neither increases their virtue nor diminishes their guilt, and of consequence ought never to be brought into view when they are to be praised or blamed for their conduct. But when the power, wisdom, goodness, or sovereignty of God in governing their views and actions are to be displayed, then it is proper to mention His, and only His, agency in the case.
2. Since the Scripture ascribes all the actions of men to God as well as to themselves, we may justly conclude that the Divine agency is as much concerned in their bad as in their good actions.
3. If the actions of men may be ascribed to God as well as to themselves, then it is easy to form a just and full view of Divine Providence. If God is actually concerned in all human actions, it necessarily follows that He constantly and absolutely governs the moral as well as the natural world.
4. If it be true that all the actions of men may be ascribed to God as well as to themselves, then it is proper to submit to God under all the evils which He brings upon us by the agency of created beings.
5. If the actions of men may be ascribed to God as well as to themselves, then God will be glorified by all their conduct. Whether they have a good or bad intention in acting, God has always a good design in causing them to act in the manner they do.
6. If the actions of men may be ascribed both to God and to themselves, then we may see the duty and nature of true repentance.
7. Finally, if it be true that the actions of men may be properly ascribed both to God and to themselves, then it is of great importance for mankind to believe and acknowledge this truth.
(N. Emmons, D. D.)
Thus saith thy son Joseph.1. Providence may order traitors to be messengers of better news than they intended.
2. Gracious children are speedy to take off grief from their parents' hearts.
3. God orders those events of mercy to be declared unto His, which they sometimes would not believe.
4. Joseph's spirit owneth his afflicted father in all his own glory.
5. Joseph's heart ascribes all his glory unto God only.
6. Joseph contents not himself to be in plenty and glory, but to have his father with him (ver. 9).
7. Certain and fertile habitations are human motives to draw from barren places.
8. Nearness to dearest relations may persuade to change habitations (ver. 10).
9. Alimony is a duty of children to parents in straights.
10. Assurance of nourishment may well draw from places where bread is wanting.
11. God's continuance of famine should move souls to follow His providence for food.
12. It is beseeming God's servants to provide under Him against impoverishing of their families. So Joseph (ver. 11).
13. Eyewitnesses and they dear ones of God's gracious events, should persuade good souls to believe them (ver. 121.
14. Gracious souls may urge their dignity to help the distressed, but not in vain glory.
15. Grace makes nature speedy in the execution of its duty.
16. Gracious children desire earnestly their parents with them in their fulness (ver. 13).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
And he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck.
I. Tears of love are true evidences — and evidences which can scarcely speak falsely.
II. Tears have much of the nature of sacrifice in them.
III. Though there are no tears in heaven, yet loving tears on earth come nearer than anything else in the world to the alleluias of the saints, for they are the outbursts of an irrepressible emotion.
IV. Tears of kindness act back again, and make the kindness from which they spring. In order to have the heart soft enough for tears —
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (J. Vaughan, M. A.)
(2) (3) (4) (5) (J. Vaughan, M. A.)
(3) (4) (5) (J. Vaughan, M. A.)
(4) (5) (J. Vaughan, M. A.)
(5) (J. Vaughan, M. A.)
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
1. Grace forbids not natural working of affection in its measure.
2. Mutual workings of hearts in brethren is but natural (ver. 14).
3. Sincere kisses and tears of injured brethren to offenders are remarkable.
4. Brotherly communion may be freely had, when grace had put away all offences, and accepted offenders (ver. 15).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
(A. M. Symington, D. D.)
He kissed all his brethren.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
I. JOSEPH'S AVOWAL.
II. MUTUAL SALUTATIONS.
III. THE MESSAGE TO JACOB. Learn:
1. To avoid strife.
2. To repel any revengeful feelings.
3. To be kind and ready to forgive.
(W. S. Smith, B. D.)
Take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the flood of the land of Egypt.I. THIS SPEAKS WELL AS TO HIS DELICATE CONSIDERATION FOR JOSEPH.
II. THIS SHOWS THE VALUE HE SET UPON JOSEPH.
III. THIS TEACHES US HOW GREAT IS THE INFLUENCE OF CHARACTER.
(T. H. Leale.)
I. A GOOD MAN CARRIES THE OLD HOME IS HIS HEART. Joseph's was not a self-chosen pilgrimage; "so then, it was not you that sent me hither, but God." He knew that. It was a history over-ruled by God for highest ends. It is wise and well that enterprize and energy should characterize a nation's sons, but they need not forget the old home. Surely, however, if any one might have cut off the remembrances of home, it was the castaway Joseph! That he owed his brethren nothing everyone must admit — nothing, indeed, but that which all Christians owe to their enemies and to themselves — the sovereignty of love over enmity. This man, successful, honoured, uplifted to be Prime Minister of Egypt, tried to exile the old home from his heart. The narrative in a previous chapter tells us this — "And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: for God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house" (Genesis 41:51). But one sight of the dear old faces broke down all his power to exclude them from his love.
II. IN A TRUE HOME EVERY LOST CHILD CREATES A BLANK. God wants every wandering child home. While we are yet a great way off, He comes forth to meet us. Jacob had many sons, and these sons had wives, and then fresh children came into the world — "his sons and his sons' sons"; "his daughters and his sons' daughters." Children — grandchildren! But these words, "Joseph is not!" constitute a little window into Jacob's heart. If you have ever lost a child, you still say in the words of the beautiful poem, "We are seven!" And if Joseph is away — far away — lost to you in the saddest of all senses, still he lives in your heart.
III. THE TIME COMES WHEN THE FATHER VISITS THE SON. This is beautiful. And it is a parable of that which occurs sometimes now. The old home circle visits the successful son, and he heads the table, and feels not that he does his father honour, but that the father honours him by his presence; this is all-glorious. I am not sure that the old world, of which China is one of the permanent shoots, does not set us an illustrious example in this respect, viz., the honour due to age and parentage; but I am sure that ancient Greece might teach us reverence, for a young man would rise in an assembly there and give his place to an aged man at once. Flippant familiarity in speech is unseemly in relations between the young and the old, for speech is an index of character. Joseph's speech is touched with reverence, and he seems to feel a culmination of kindly providence in the fact that his father should know of his glory in Egypt. I trust that many a son's heart will leap in future days when he sees, amid the faces looking on with rapt interest in a season of honour and reward, the features of his father.
IV. THE JOURNEY IS THAT OF A RELIGIOUS OLD MAN. Israel took his journey, and "came to Beer-sheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac." Then he thought of his father. We smile at old men finding it difficult to think themselves old, but their childhood is only a little way behind.
(W. M. Statham, M. A.)
Provision for the way.I. But for the provision Joseph sent them for the way, Jacob and his sons' sons and daughters could never have crossed the hot desert. But the impossible had been made possible by the command of Pharaoh and the love of Joseph. The journey was accomplished successfully, the desert was traversed without peril, without excessive fatigue, by means of the waggons sent out of the land of Egypt. When Jacob saw the waggons his heart revived.
II. Let us apply this to our Lord and to ourselves. Jesus Christ, the true Joseph, remembers us in His prosperity, and He sends an invitation to us by the desire of God the Father, who loveth us. He dots not bid us come to Him in our own strength, relying only on the poor food which a famine-struck land yields — does not bid us toil across a burning desert, prowled over by the lion, without provision and protection. There are sacraments and helps and means of grace, which He has sent to relieve the weariness of the way, to carry us on, to support us when we faint, to encourage us lest we should despair.
III. Let us not despise the means of grace. We may not ourselves want them, but others do. Go in your own waggon, or on your feet, if you can and dare, but upbraid not those who take refuge in means of transport you have not tried, or do not require. Those sacraments, those means of grace, those helps, ever new, yet old as Christianity, have borne many and many a blessed one along to the "good land," who is now resting in Goshen and eating the fat of the land.
(S. Baring-Gould, M. A.)
I. HIS RESPECT AND HONOUR FOR HIS FATHER. This is seen —
1. In the portion he gave to Benjamin
2. In the portion he sent to his father.
II. HIS SHREWD WISDOM (ver. 24).
(T. H. Leale.)
See that ye fall not out by the way.I. THE RELATIONSHIP OF CHRISTIANS. They are brethren.
II. THE COURSE OF CHRISTIANS. On their way from Egypt to Canaan, from house of bondage to Father's house above.
III. THE DANGER OF CHRISTIANS. Falling out by the way — disagreeing, quarrelling, separating.
IV. THE DUTY OF CHRISTIANS. To watch against this danger. Why?
1. Because brethren.
2. Because travelling to a place where there is no falling out.
3. Because you can't fall out without falling down — lowering Christian character.
4. Because you can't fall out without disobeying your Father, who tells you to love one another.
5. Because you can't fall out without giving your enemies occasion to triumph. Fall out with yourselves, and with Satan, but not with one another.
(J. F. Smythe.)
II. PARTAKERS OF THE SAME GRACE. Forgiven ourselves, we are to be forgiving.
III. ASSOCIATES IN THE SAME SERVICE. Concerted action is required of us.
IV. TRAVELLING TO THE SAME HOME.
(J. F. Poulter, B. A.)
1. Be humble. The more you are aware of your own failings, the more allowances you will make for those you live with. The less you will be disposed to fret at their selfishness and pride, the more heartily you are vexed at your own.
2. Be not selfish. Next to pride, if it be not the very same thing, stands selfishness, as the fruitful source of ill-temper. "'Look not," then, "every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others" (Philippians 2:4).
3. Set in watch over your lips. And when an angry thought arises, for a while be resolutely silent. Words are to anger, as air to kindle flame. Without them it soon dies for want of vent.
4. Avoid whatever you have found to be your usual provocations to anger.
5. Take, then, in the last place, this one direction more, "Overcome evil with good." "A soft answer turneth away wrath."
(E. Blencowe, M. A.)
1. Because ye are brethren.
2. Because ye are passing through an enemy's country.
3. Because ye are the bearers of precious treasure.
4. Because ye are representative men. All these thoughts will apply to the Church of Christ.
(A. F. Barfield.)
g: — How well he knew human nature! They were going home with news which would reveal to their father that they had been the cause of their brother's disappearance, and had imposed on him with a deliberate falsehood; and for anything they knew, he might turn upon them and upbraid them with their cruelty and deceit. What so likely, therefore, as that they should begin to accuse each other — that crimination should lead to recrimination, and words to blows? Reuben might say again, "It was not my fault, for I sought to save his life, and I went back to the pit hoping to find him and restore him to our father." Judah might respond, "But for me he would have died, and it is to my happy suggestion to sell him to the Ishmaelites that we are indebted for all the good fortune that seems now to be coming to us"; while the rest, conscious of their share in the nefarious transaction, might have sought to still the upbraidings of their consciences by uttering bitter things against each other. All that might have happened on their journey home, and so Joseph was not giving unnecessary counsel when he said, "See that ye fall not out by the way." And they heeded his advice, for they reached home in peace; and it may be that, so far from quarrelling, they spent some of their time as they rode in conversing on the marvellous manner in which, in spite of their antagonism, and without their consciousness of anything in the least degree out of the way, the dreams of their brother had been fulfilled, and they had done obeisance at his feet.
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
(L. N. Stretch.)
New Handbook of Illustration.When Caesar solicited the consulship he found Crassus and Pompey at variance, so that he could not apply to either of them for help, lest he should make the other his enemy. He determined to reconcile them by representing that if instead of fighting against each other, and thus raising enemies that might be formidable against them both, they would act in concert, by their united counsels and interest they might subdue all opposition. The scheme was successful, and Caesar by their help attained a pinnacle of power; and though neither Crassus nor Pompey gained any particular advantage by the league, if they had but used their united power wisely they might have affected great good. He who can bind together those who are at variance may procure for the state or for the Church a marvellous blessing. Never is a foe so ready to advance as when he sees those who should be one to attack him wounding and slaying each other. The battle of the sects has not only provoked ill blood in the Church of Christ, but has weakened her for offensive movements, because when she ought to have been increasing her armaments and completing her equipments for an aggression on the enemy's territory, she has rather been engaged in quarrelling over some trivial point of doctrine, or perhaps some piece of church furniture, to her own dishonour and the enemy's triumph.
(New Handbook of Illustration.)
Homiletic Encylopoedia.Dr. Cannon was once appealed to by a certain church where there was a great commotion in regard to the point, whether in newly painting their church edifice the colour should be white or yellow. When the committee had stated their case, and with an emphasis, not to say acrimony, which gave sad proof of the existence of a fearful feud upon the unimportant question, the doctor quietly said, "I should advise you, on the whole, to paint the house black. It is cheap, and a good colour to wear, and eminently appropriate for a body that ought to go in mourning over such a foolish quarrel among its members."
When he saw the waggons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived.
I. Jacob's heart fainted; but old men, dying persons, often feel that some unrealized object detains them here. Jacob was like watchers who have gone to the point and taken lodgings, to be the first to hail the ship; and as pennon after pennon flutters in sight they hail it, but it is not the expected vessel, and the heart faints, until at last the well-known signal waves in the wind. Sense sees it, and faith revives.
II. The lesson of the patriarch's history is that faith may not realize all it desires, but it may realize what confirms, revives, assures. "He saw the waggons": "Faith cometh by hearing"; it is a moral principle created in the mind, not so much by facts as probabilities. Faith is moved and swayed by antecedental considerations. So these waggons were, in all probability, an aid to faith, and his heart revived. Treasure up marks and tokens of another country; you will find they will not be wanting.
III. If you deal faithfully with the tremendous hints and probabilities sacred to your own nature, sacred to the Holy Word, sacred to the infinite manifestation of God in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, they will hold you fast in the power of awful convictions, and in the embrace of infinite consolations. The waggons assured Jacob that Joseph was yet alive, and there are innumerable conveyances of grace which assure us that Jesus is yet alive.
(E. Paxton Hood.)
I. IT IS, AT FIRST, RECEIVED WITH INCREDULITY.
II. IT IS AFTERWARDS ACCEPTED UPON OUTWARD EVIDENCE.
III. IT ENABLED JACOB TO VINDICATE HIS OLD CHARACTER
1. His faith triumphs.
2. His dark destiny is about to be cleared up.
3. He anticipates his peaceful end.
(T. H. Leale.)
1. No wonder certainly that Jacob could not believe his sons. You know from their history, and particularly from that part which is mingled with the earlier days of Joseph, how deceitfulness (inherited, too, from their parents and ancestry) had marked their conduct towards their father Jacob, whose life, I suspect, was often rendered very bitter by sad instances of their deceitfulness, and by the painful reflections upon his own conduct in his earlier days, which those instances would produce. Even Joseph's messages were not believed by Jacob, not because Jacob doubted them, but because he could not believe the messengers.
II. And that Jacob believed at last, was convinced of the truthfulness of the messages, and going down to Egypt, he saw Joseph, often enjoyed his society, and finished his eventful pilgrimage there in peace, and with the full certainty of being buried in "the promised land." A sight of Joseph's waggons convinced him.
III. We have in this affecting narrative an illustration of two important ways by which truth may be received, and indeed. through which it may be communicated. The difference betwixt the mode of teaching a truth by a simple revelation or message, and by the medium of the sight, is not, indeed, in the strictest sense of the term, that of an "objective " and a "subjective" truth; but it is very nearly this. For though indeed it may be said truly enough that teaching by means of any of the senses is "objective," there is nearly all the difference between "objective " and "subjective " in teaching by means of the sight and by means of words; because whatever the eye learns is learned by a real object, or by an object which does not profess to be the thing itself, but a recognized representation thereof. Thus the message of Joseph delivered by his brethren to their father was really (in my view) a "subjective" truth; I mean it was truth which he was to receive. But then, though the ear was the medium of reception, faith or credibility in the veracity of his children was necessary ere he could profit by it. And this faith he had not in them. He could not believe them, and he only became agitated; but the sight of the waggons convinced him. The truth was exhibited by another means; but I think also it was truth in another form. It was the truth that Joseph was alive, "objectively" brought home to Jacob by visible tangible realities. They were not like Joseph; they were not pictures, "carvings," imitations of him; but there was a reality, a matter of fact truthfulness about what he there saw before him, which, though not a convincing demonstration, was a thoroughly satisfying "objective" realization to the eye of what would not have happened but for the true loving tenderness of his long lost son. And this "objective" truth seen as an object by the eye gave reality to the " subjective" message, heard by the ear, indeed, but receivable only by the mind through faith, so that though it is said of that "subjective" truth Jacob believed not the messengers, it is immediately recorded of the "objective" truth that "when he saw the waggons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived, and he said, "It is enough; Joseph, my son, is yet alive: I will go, and see him before I die."
IV. The application of these observations to the Lord's Supper, and indeed to either of the Sacraments, appears to me to be obvious and easy. Your only means of salvation is Christ Jesus, crucified for you and risen. God in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself; Christ, the Son of God, who, by His one oblation offered once for all, hath put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, forms, through the Holy Spirit, your great hope of acceptance with God. The messages sent to you from heaven are true, and abound in tenderness; they are like Joseph's message, full of truth and love. From various causes men demur to receive them. We who bring the messages are often not believed, You to whom the messages are delivered are conscious of many things which you think incapacitate you from applying them to yourselves. The blessed truths of salvation thus presented for your faith to receive and to make personally your own "subjectively," are too often not received. But then, amidst all this clatter of disputings, doubtings and arguing, what meaneth this service? What meaneth it that to-day, that every Sunday throughout Christendom, in thousands and thousands of churches, and by many thousands and even millions of Christians, a simple though significant act is celebrated, even as it has been since the last Passover, and will continue to be so "till He come" who at first appointed it? Why is it that Christians from time to time gather together to break this bread and to drink this cup? What mean ye by this service? It is "objectively" for you what the waggons proved to Jacob. It is a very simple, but "objective" act, which brings before you vividly the love of Christ, in giving His body and His blood upon the Cross for you.
(G. Venables, S. C. L.)
1. In the first place, like those that came from the Egyptian palace, the King's waggons now bring us corn and meat, and many changes of raiment. We are apt to think of the fields and the orchards as feeding us, but who makes the flax grow for the linen, and the wheat for the bread, and the wool on the sheep's back? None but a God could clothe and feed the world. None but a King's corncrib could appease the world's famine. None but a King could tell how many waggons to send, and how heavily to load them, and when they are to start. Oh! thank God for bread — for bread!
2. I remark, again, that, like those that came from the Egyptian's palace, the King's waggons bring us good news. Jacob had not heard from his boy for a great many years. He had never thought of him but with a heart-ache. There was in Jacob's heart a room where lay the corpse of his unburied Joseph; and when the waggons came — the king's waggons — and told him that Joseph was yet alive, he faints dead away. Good news for Jacob! Good news for us! The King's waggons come down and tell us that our Joseph — Jesus — is yet alive; that He has forgiven us because we threw Him into the pit of suffering and the dungeon of shame. He has risen from thence to stand in a palace. The Bethlehem shepherds were awakened at midnight by the rattling of the waggons that brought the tidings. Our Joseph — Jesus — sends us a message of pardon, of life, of heaven; corn for our hunger, raiment for our nakedness. Joseph — Jesus — is yet alive 1 The King's waggons will, after a while, unload, and they will turn round, and they will go back to the palace, and I really think that you and I will go with them. The King will not leave us in this famine-struck world. The King has ordered that we be lifted into the waggons, and that we go over into Goshen, where there shall be pasturage for our largest flock of joy; and then we will drive up to the palace where there are glories awaiting us which will melt all the snow of Egyptian marble into forgetfulness.
3. I think that the King's waggons will take us up to see our lost friends. Jacob's chief anticipation was not of seeing the Nile, or of seeing the long colonnade of architectural beauty, or of seeing the throne-room. There was a focus to all his journeyings — to all his anticipations — and that was Joseph. Well, my friends, I do not think heaven would be worth much if our brother Jesus was not there. Oh! the joy of meeting our brother Joseph — Jesus! After we have talked about Him for ten, or fifty, or seventy years, to talk with Him I and to clasp hands with the Hero of the ages, not crouching as underlings in His presence, but as Jacob and Joseph hug each other. The king's waggons took Jacob up to see his lost boy; and so I really think that the King's waggons will take us up to see our lost kindred. How long is it since Joseph went out of your household? How many years is it, now, last Christmas, or the fourteenth of next month? It was a dark night when he died, and a stormy day it was at the burial; and the clouds wept with you, and the winds sighed for the dead. The bell at Greenwood's Gate rang only for a few moments, but your heart has been tolling, tolling, ever since. You have been under a delusion, like Jacob of old. You put his name first in the birth-record of the family Bible, and then you put it in the death-record of the family Bible, and you have been deceived. Joseph is yet alive l He is more alive than you are. Of all the sixteen thousand millions of children that statisticians say have gone into the future world, there is not one of them dead, and the King's waggons will take you up to see them. In my boyhood, for some time, we lived three miles from church, and on stormy days the children stayed at home, but father and mother always went to church. That was a habit they had. On those stormy Sabbaths when we stayed at home, the absence of our parents seemed very much protracted, for the roads were very bad, and they could not get on very fast. So we would go to the window at twelve o'clock to see if they were coming; and at a quarter to one; and then at one o'clock. After awhile, Mary or Daniel, or De Witt would shout, "The waggon's coming!" and then we would see it winding out of the woods, and over the brook, and through the lane, and up in the front of the old farmhouse; and then we would rush out, leaving the doors wide open, with many things to tell them, asking them many questions. Well, I think we:are many of us in the King's waggons, and we are on the way home. The road is very bad, and we get on slowly; but after awhile we will come winding out of the woods, and through the brook of death, and up in front of the old heavenly homestead; and our departed kindred who have been waiting and watching for us will rush out through the doors, and over the lawn, crying: "The waggons are coming! the King's waggons are coming!" Hark! the bell of the city hall strikes twelve. Twelve o'clock on earth; and likewise it is high noon in heaven.
And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive.
1. Joseph, in his younger days, was distinguished from his brethren by a purity of life which became the more observable in contrast with their dissolute manners, and caused an evil report to be sent to their father. His brethren saw him afar off, and conspired to kill him. In this we have a true picture of the Jews' treatment of Christ.
2. Joseph was carried down into Egypt, even as was Christ in His earliest days. Joseph was cast into prison, emblematic of the casting of Jesus into the grave, the prison of death; Joseph was imprisoned with two accused persons — the chief butler and the chief baker of Pharaoh; Christ was crucified between two malefactors. It was in the third year that Joseph was liberated, and on the third day that our Saviour rose.
3. It is as a liberated man that Joseph is most. signally the type of our Redeemer. Set free from prison, Joseph became the second in the kingdom, even as the Redeemer, rising from the prison of the grave, became possessed in His mediatorial capacity of all power in heaven and earth, and yet so possessed as to be subordinate to the Father. Joseph was raised up of God to be a preserver of life during years of famine. Christ, in His office of Mediator, distributes bread to the hungry. All men shall flock to Jesus, eager for the bread that came down from heaven.
4. Joseph's kinsmen were the last to send into Egypt for corn, just as the Jews have been longest refusing to own Christ as their Deliverer.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
1. The first truth which I would point out to you as being strikingly illustrated and confirmed by this history is this: that THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD REGULATES THE MINUTEST MATTERS, and that He doeth all things according to His will, in the armies of heaven, and amongst the inhabitants of the earth. None are so besotted as not to acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being; but the extent of His agency, and the interest He takes in the affairs of men, are far from being duly appreciated.
2. Another truth which this history equally confirms is that WICKED MEN, THOUGH FOLLOWING THEIR OWN DEVICES AND ACTUATED SOLELY BY THEIR OWN EVIL INCLINATIONS, DO BUT BRING TO PASS THE SECRET PURPOSES OF THE MOST HIGH. NO one, indeed, can read this history and not see the truth of the psalmist's exclamation, "Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee (Psalm 76:10). And truly many events recorded in the Scriptures teach us the very same thing. What caused the gospel of Christ to be preached throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria by the early converts? The persecution raised at Jerusalem against the infant Church, and intended for its utter destruction (Acts 8:1). Again, when the Apostle Paul had gone through part of Asia and Greece, it was God's intention that he should preach the gospel at Rome also; but who were the agents employed to bring about this His purpose? The Asiatic Jews, who raised a tumult which threatened the apostle's life; scribes and Pharisees and wicked men, who bound themselves by an oath to kill him; and two Roman governors, one of whom, though he doubted not his innocence, to please the Jews, left him in prison, and the other, who, from no better motive, obliged him to appeal to Caesar, that he might not be taken back to Jerusalem.
3. Another truth which in this history we see clearly brought before us is that GOD'S PEOPLE ARE OFTEN TRIED BY GREAT AND LONG-CONTINUED AFFLICTION. "Many are the afflictions of the righteous" (Psalm 34:19).
4. Another truth which this history strongly confirms is that, HOWEVER LONG OR SOUNDLY CONSCIENCE MAY SLEEP, WHEN GOD IS PLEASED TO AROUSE IT, THE MOST STOUT-HEARTED SINNER WILL BE STRUCK WITH TERROR AND ALARM.
II. But I will now direct your attention to some of THE LESSONS OF INSTRUCTION WHICH THIS HISTORY MAY FURNISH US WITH.
1. And, first, we may learn from it to put full and entire trust in the promises of God, and not to be moved from our confidence by any apparently untoward events.
2. Learn from this history to maintain uprightness and integrity in all your dealings, and to combine an active use of means with an earnest prayer for a blessing upon them. When Jacob determined to send his sons a second time into Egypt, he bids them take back the money found in the mouths of their sacks, saying, "Peradventure it was an oversight."
3. Learn, again, from this history, that, as Joseph behaved towards his brethren, so God often deals with His people, and with the same object, namely, to make them sensible of their sins and to effect their humiliation.
4. Learn, lastly, from the example of Joseph, not to be overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good.
I will go and see him before I die. —
(E. P. Hammond.).