After Joseph detained Simeon as collateral, he sent the other brothers to bring Benjamin back before establishing further trade between Jacob’s family and the Egyptians. He sent them with the grain they had purchased, but he also secretly returned their payment as well. In this way Joseph was able to bless his brothers, however, because the brothers could not fathom that the gesture was intentional blessing, they were terrified as they imagined that they would be accused of having cheated and stolen from the Egyptians. Because of their fear, likely caused by the guilt they carried from their sin against Joseph, they cried out, “What has God done to us?” Did you catch that? Verse 25 says the returning of their money was something that was done for them, but they saw it as something done to them.
Do you sometimes think circumstances in your life are like a curse or a punishment because you fear one possible outcome? Well, in the case of these brothers, and in your case, I’m glad the God of Life is the one who writes the end of our stories, and His children never have to fear the end of the story.
As it turned out, the brothers returned to Joseph with their youngest brother after they had fretted a good bit and eaten through the grain they purchased on the first trip. They took twice the payment as before and were ready to grovel for mercy as they explained the “mistaken” returned payment to the steward of Joseph’s house. He told them, “Peace to you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of our father has put treasure in your sacks for you. I received your money.” The brothers met Joseph again, ate as his guests, and were prepared for their return trip, but this time Joseph’s slight-of-hand was a test, not just a blessing.
Joseph had his steward frame the youngest brother, Benjamin as a thief, and when Joseph made the accusation, the brothers protested that none of them would steal from him, but that if any were found to be guilty of the crime, they would surrender to punishment of death. Well, once the “stolen” property was discovered in Benjamin’s possession, the brothers all lost it. They pleaded with Joseph for mercy for the sake of their aged and bereaved father. Maybe it was this very compassion on Jacob, which was not a concern for these same brothers when they staged Joseph’s death all those years before, that fully broke Joseph.
Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers, forgave them, absolved them from shame, exalted God’s sovereignty, begged them to receive the blessing of his provision during the remaining years of famine, and showered them with affection. Honestly, if this all happened within a matter of minutes like the text seems to suggest, I feel bad for those overwhelmed brothers! They had willfully committed some heinous sin, it’s true. But they had lived in the darkness of shame and fear, slaves to Satan’s accusations for more than a decade. Then, all of a sudden, the lights of love and forgiveness were switched on, and did they ever blaze with God’s glory! That must have been a completely overwhelming moment for them.
In the end, Jacob was told the incredible story of Joseph in Egypt, and he even made the journey to see his long lost son for himself. The whole family was resettled closer to the food stores in Egypt and worked as shepherds over the flocks of Pharaoh. It became clear to those who once scoffed at the dreams once told by the young Joseph that such dreams were actually a promise of blessing, not a threat of domination. And that, my friends, is the goodness of this God of Life. His authority is over all, and His generosity is beyond anything you can imagine.
The text discussed above can be found in Genesis 42:26-47:12. I apologize for not including it in its entirety here, but I encourage you to read it directly from God’s Word.