The joyful reunion of Joseph with both his brothers and his father reminds us of the power of confession and forgiveness. It also reminds us that in His providence God often effects changes in people over many years and through many heartaches.
I remember reading the account of a soldier who had been a prisoner of war for seven years. When the war ended, he returned home. He had become a Christian during his captivity and would later write how the Lord enabled him to handle the years of suffering and isolation and separation from his wife and children.
Thousands of people gathered at the airport to witness this wonderful family reunion. He didn’t know it, but one of his daughters was now married and he was a grandfather. He also didn’t know that his son had been in an accident and was there to greet him from his wheelchair. It was a tender moment when this father knelt beside his son’s wheelchair and embraced him, and they wept together.
There is something very moving, very touching, about a family reunion. In fact, there’s something in our hearts that yearns to go home.
Years ago, when I was preaching at a missionary conference near my hometown, I decided to travel over to my childhood home where I, along with my three brothers, had been raised by our missionary parents. So, I drove over to Red Brook Road, in Norfolk, Virginia.
Everything looked different, of course. The tree I used to climb was gone. The front yard had green grass—something we never had because we constantly wore it out playing and running. I went up and knocked on the door, and a young mother answered and then invited me in so that I could walk through that little house. Each room brought back so many memories.
Eventually, I made my way to that little bedroom where I had knelt as a teenager, giving my sin and my heart and my life to Christ. It was so good to be reminded of the grace of God.
For more than twenty years, Joseph has been away from home. It wasn’t his choice—he had been sold into slavery by his brothers. He had been robbed of his youth, and his heart longed for home, to see his father, Jacob, again and to reunite with his entire family.
We’re in Genesis 45, where Joseph finally reveals to his eleven brothers who he is. He announces to them in verse 4, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.”
And let me tell you, nobody would blame Joseph if his next words were, “And you’re all going to pay dearly for what you did to me.” But revenge is the response of the flesh, not the Spirit.
His next words are, “Do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life” (verse 5). And then in verse 7: “God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth.” “It was not you who sent me here,” he says in verse 8, “but God.”
This was God’s plan all along. And in a tender moment—in fact, in one of the most miraculous moments in this twenty-year drama—verse 15 says, “And [Joseph] kissed all his brothers [note, all his brothers] and wept upon them. After that his brothers talked with him.” I can’t imagine all the apologies and tears and the forgiveness and the family updates and the memories they shared together.
Joseph tells his brothers to go home immediately and inform Jacob of all that’s happened and tell him to come to Joseph in Egypt; and they do just that. Imagine the scene here in verse 26: “And they told [Jacob], ‘Joseph is still alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.’”
And Jacob responds exactly as you and I would have. The Bible says, “His heart became numb, for he did not believe them.”
This is too good to be true. Joseph is alive! He wasn’t killed by a wild animal decades earlier. And he’s the ruler of the land of Egypt!
At this point, these brothers are going to have to confess to their father the great sin they had committed, the worst secret they had ever kept. Verse 27 tells us they told Jacob everything Joseph had said to them. This would have included Joseph’s perspective that although his brothers had sold him into slavery, God had sent him there; God had used their sin ultimately to provide for His chosen nation.
And here in verse 27, we read, “The spirit of their father Jacob revived.” In other words, Jacob was filled with hope again. Verse 28: “And Israel said.” I love that: “Israel said.” This is Jacob’s covenant name, which implies that his confidence in God’s covenant promises is restored. “And Israel said, ‘It is enough; Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.’”
In chapter 46, Jacob travels to Beersheba, which is at the southernmost tip of the promised land. Jacob stops here and offers sacrifices, declaring his allegiance to God. And God comes to Jacob in a night vision and speaks to him:
“Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again.” (verses 3-4)
When Jacob and his family arrive, verse 29 says:
Then Joseph prepared his chariot and went up to meet Israel his father in Goshen. He presented himself to him and fell on his neck and wept on his neck a good while.
What a moment. What a family reunion. After all these years, the family is finally together again.
Jacob says in verse 30, “Now let me die, since I have seen your face.” In other words, “I can die now in peace. I now know the answer to the questions I asked God a thousand times: ‘What happened to Joseph, and why?’”
Beloved, many of you are probably waiting for answers to questions like these. In time, the Lord may give you answers in this life, but you may not be given answers until the moment you see the Lord face to face—and He will be answer enough.
In the next chapter, Genesis 47, Pharaoh invites all of them not only to live in the region of Goshen and tend their own flocks and herds, but also to watch over his livestock as well.
Egyptians didn’t like shepherds, which they considered an occupation for the poorest of the poor. So, the land of Goshen will provide not only pastureland and security but also a measure of protection away from much of the idolatry of Egypt as this family of seventy grows into a nation of several million people.
By the way, Joseph becomes a wonderful illustration of Jesus Christ. Back in chapter 45, when Joseph sent his brothers back home to Jacob and the rest of his family, he essentially sent them with a threefold message: “First, tell them that I’m not dead; I’m alive. Secondly, tell them that I am now exalted as lord over all of Egypt. And thirdly, invite them all to come and live with me.”
Do you see it? We’re telling our world that Jesus Christ isn’t dead; He’s alive! We’re telling our world that Jesus is exalted in glorious splendor as Lord of Lords and King of Kings; and we’re giving the world His personal invitation to come and live with Him in heaven.
Have you accepted His invitation? You can by praying right now, “Lord Jesus, I believe You died for sinners like me. I accept Your invitation to trust You alone for my salvation. Forgive my sin, Lord, accept me into Your family, and become my Lord and Savior.”