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Garments of Reconciliation

Genesis 41:42 NASB

"Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand, and put it on Joseph's hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen, and put the gold necklace around his neck."

Last week, Joseph interpreted Pharaoh's troubling dreams and advised him to appoint a wise man to administer a savings plan during the seven years of plenty to provide for the nation during the seven years of drought to follow.

Pharaoh followed his advise and appointed Joseph-the man he'd just called out of his prison-to prepare the country for their future. He put his signet ring on Joseph's hand and the garment of exultation on his back. Last week, as we closed, we considered the questions, "How will Joseph do during this season of prosperity? Will he exact revenge on the cupbearer who forgot about him or Potiphar's wife who lied about him? How will he use his power? Will he remain faithful to his God, or while in Egypt will he do as the Egyptians do?" During the evening service we discussed three strategies to help a Christian remain faithful to God during prosperous years. We said to, first, "Bless the Lord and give Him the praise He deserves." Deut. 8:10 says, "When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you." Second we said to "Be careful to keep His commandments." Deut. 8:11 says, "Beware lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today;" And third, we said to "Remember the Lord," like Deut. 8:18 teaches, "But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day."

So what did Joseph do? Did he Bless the Lord, keep His commandments and remember the Lord? We'll see in just a minute, first let's see what happened in Egypt.

The events unraveled just as Joseph said they would. There were 7 years of plenty, followed by 7 years of famine. During the years of plenty, Joseph had two sons by the wife Pharaoh gave him and oversaw the storage of grain for the famine. Let's rejoin the story in Genesis 41:53-55 "When the seven years of plenty which had been in the land of Egypt came to an end, [54] and the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said, then there was famine in all the lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. [55] So when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried out to Pharaoh for bread; and Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, 'Go to Joseph; whatever he says to you, you shall do.'"

Verse 55 says it vividly-Joseph had absolute power. As the famine progressed, people from everywhere came to Egypt to get food. One of the groups of visitors who knelt before Joseph asking for help was Joseph's brothers. Just as Joseph had dreamed years before, his brothers bowed down before him. Joseph recognized them, but they did not recognize him. They told Joseph that they were 10 of 12 sons from the land of Canaan wanting to buy food-according to the brothers, their youngest brother was still at home and the other brother, was dead. Joseph pretended not to believe their story and accused them of being spies and threw them into jail for three days. When three days passed, Joseph released all but one of them and told them to take some grain home with them, but to return with their youngest brother to prove their story and show they were who they said they were.

The brothers spoke to one another in their language, not knowing that Joseph could understand them. They grieved over what they'd done to Joseph years ago, believing that God was punishing them for that sin. When Joseph heard them, he went into another room and wept. 

Joseph returned and sent the brothers away with the grain they bought with a special package inside the bag-the money they'd given for the grain. When the brothers made it home, they told their father what happened and told him they had to take Benjamin back with them to verify their story and redeem Simeon. Here's his reply: "But Jacob said, 'My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he alone is left. If harm should befall him on the journey you are taking, then you will bring my gray hair down to Sheol in sorrow.'" (Genesis 42:38 NASB)

But when the food ran out, Israel had a change of mind and sent gifts with Benjamin. When they stood before Joseph, Joseph instructed his servants to prepare a feast and invite the brothers to his house for dinner. When he saw Benjamin with his brothers, he went into a private room and wept again. 

After dinner, the steward filled their sacks with grain and the money they brought, but that's not all, he also put Joseph's cup in Benjamin's sacks. The trap was set, now Joseph was ready to spring it. Genesis 44:4-5 NASB says, "They had just gone out of the city, and were not far off, when Joseph said to his house steward, 'Up, follow the men; and when you overtake them, say to them, 'Why have you repaid evil for good? [5] Is not this the one from which my lord drinks, and which he indeed uses for divination? You have done wrong in doing this.'"

Why is Joseph doing this? Is he being spiteful and exacting revenge? Not exactly. When they found the cup in Benjamin's sack, Joseph was making him a hostage of sorts to force Israel, Joseph's father to travel to Egypt. When they got back, Judah made a passionate plea to imprison him and let the other brothers, especially Benjamin go free. Judah made it clear that if his father suffered any more sorrow that it would kill him. Joseph couldn't take it anymore. Let's rejoin the text to see what happens next. Genesis 45:1-15 NIV "Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, 'Have everyone leave my presence!' So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. [2] And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh's household heard about it. 

[3] Joseph said to his brothers, 'I am Joseph! Is my father still living?' But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. 

[4] Then Joseph said to his brothers, 'Come close to me.' When they had done so, he said, 'I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! [5] And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. [6] For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. [7] But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. [8] So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. [9] Now hurry back to my father and say to him, 'This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don't delay. [10] You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me--you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. [11] I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.' [12] You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. [13] Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.' [14] Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. [15] And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him."

When Pharaoh heard about Joseph's brothers, he encouraged them to go home and get their father and bring him back to settle on the best land in Egypt. Joseph gave his brothers wagons and provisions. He also gave all of them new garments-garments of reconciliation-for the journey.

That's where the story ends today. Next week, we'll find out how Joseph's father responds to the news that Joseph is still alive and find out if Joseph and his family can live in peace together. Before we close today, I do have a question for you, are you able to see God's providence in bad times as well as good? Can you say with Joseph, "What you meant for evil, God meant for good?" And like Joseph, can you forgive those who've done evil against you? Tonight we'll be talking about the power of forgiveness. I hope that between now and then you'll ask yourself, "Is there someone I need to forgive?"

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