May 31, 2015 Genesis 45:1-15
Series: Divine Hope for Dysfunctional Families
Today’s Message: “God Sent Me”
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
Has this happened to you?
Perhaps you’ve had an experience like this: You are somewhere that you normally don’t go, (a detour, a change in plans) and while you are there, God gives you a divine appointment, such as an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus with a stranger, or to be a witness to some special providence of God. And you think later: “God sent me there. He arranged it so I would be there at just the right time so that He could use me!” That’s a wonderful experience, isn’t it?
But what about a situation where you have been sinned against and others have deeply hurt you, and because of your suffering and loss, you find yourself in a difficult situation? (perhaps in a hospital ER, or carrying extra burdens, or struggling with loss or hurt.) Then how much of a sense do you have of God sending you there, when the situation you are in is the result of terrible things that have happened to you? It’s probably hard to say, “Wow, Lord, I can’t wait to see how you are going to use all my pain and suffering to put me in just the right spot?”
Yet this is the mindset that God gave to Joseph in the passage before us. And what I would like each one of us to see this morning is that (i.) God sends us to people, and that (ii.) God sends people to us, and (iii.) that He often uses suffering and sin to do the sending…. For His Glory and for our deliverance or the salvation of others.
How do we know that? We know it because we believe that God is sovereign and loving and all-wise. That is, because our Lord God is amazingly great and incredibly good and exceedingly erudite, we know that He will even use our pain and loss to put us exactly where we need to be, and when we need to be there, in order to be His special instruments and to be able to see His extraordinary providence. (Like God did with the persecution of His church in Acts 8, to send the gospel message out to all the earth.)
Let’s see how that works out in Genesis 45:1-15
vv. 1-3 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.
Imagine being one of the brothers at this point, when Joseph reveals himself to you. This ruler of Egypt, who has complete control over your fate, now reveals himself to be your own brother! The one you sold into slavery 22 years ago is not only alive and well, but is sovereign over your destiny!
So to hear the words “I am Joseph” blurted out in their own tongue, caused them great fear of being punished. They were standing before a powerful Egyptian governor who was not merely angered at the theft of his silver cup, but whom they feared would now get his revenge on them, for selling him into slavery. [This is how many people view God.]
Before they knew he was their brother, they had a hope that this judge would be impartial and that mercy might motivate him to accept their appeal. But now their judge would be their enemy, whom they had unjustly condemned. How could they hope for better treatment from him? No wonder they were petrified!
But ironically, Joseph himself is also overwhelmed; he has tears, not by fear, but of joy, because of the grace of God, which has transformed Judah and his other brothers, into truly repentant men. God sets the stage for His wondrous works by first putting the brothers together in a very emotional situation, full of fear.
vv. 4-7 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 be no 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.
What a declaration of faith in the sovereignty of God! By God’s grace, Joseph understood that God’s will, and not man’s will, was the controlling reality in every event, even in all he had unjustly suffered. And because Joseph held tight to God’s wise and loving control, he was able to see the sins of others against him, and his consequent sufferings, in a totally different light.
God had been at work, in decades, in his brothers, and now reconciliation in this dysfunctional family could occur, to God’s glory!
Joseph’s words, “The one you sold into Egypt…God sent me ahead of you” (vv. 4, 5, 7) are a classic statement of God’s providential control. Yes, the brothers were completely responsible for their sinful actions against Joseph. They has sinned against him and they had now repented of it. Yet at the same time, the Sovereign Lord was working out His saving purposes for all of them… even through their sinful actions! Isn’t God amazing? Indeed, the Lord writes straight on crooked lines. He accomplishes His glorious purposes even through the rebellious actions of people such as you and me. Praise be to the Lord, that He uses even our worst sins to accomplish His best plans!
Now I want each of you to think about your response to when you’ve been sinned against, when you’ve suffered unjustly, when others have treated you poorly and even abusively, or even when you feel that God has given you a raw deal in life. What does your heart say? “It’s not fair!” “I don’t deserve this!” “May the Lord bring justice!” “Who do they think they are, treating me like that?”
But by the grace of God, Joseph not only doesn’t think that way; he goes so far as to first forgive his brothers and second to declare how God used their sin against him to bring about their deliverance from the famine, so that God could preserve a remnant of his people through His great deliverance of them (v. 7)
We see this same principle that God uses sinners and sin to accomplish His good and glorious purposes, when the Apostle Peter declared in Acts 2:23: “this Man (Jesus Christ), delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death”. You can see how God uses the worst sin of man to accomplish the best work of God, for His glory and for our salvation! God uses the most awful ingredients to make the most marvelous meals!
And so we can see that Joseph’s words to his brothers are filled with hope and encouragement. Verses 5-8 assure these men that their sin had not thwarted the purposes of God. “You sold me,” Joseph said, “but God sent me” (verse 5). Their purpose was to destroy, but God’s was to save.
vv. 8-15 “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.
Joseph graciously includes all his brothers in his grand plan of family reconciliation. He could have put his brothers into prison and left them to rot, to pay for their crime against him. But instead he extended grace and forgiveness to them!
What enabled Joseph to forgive his brothers? A key reason was that he saw the overarching purpose of God. And in the same way, if we could recognize that God’s gracious work continues even through the sins of others, then we would learn better how to forgive as well.
Application: Has someone hurt you deeply? If so, can you trust God that He will use even that sin against you to work out His purpose? Remember, Joseph couldn’t see any evidence, for over 20 years, that God was going to work out his suffering for the good. You may need time… and others to come alongside you… to discern how God is working out His purposes.
But here’s a major pothole in the road to trusting God: what if you can’t see such a redeeming purpose to your suffering? What if the sin or abuse against you seems totally senseless, without any positive purpose? Then what?
Well, remember that God often works in decades and centuries. It took over two decades for Joseph and his brothers to see how God uses their sin against him for good. Then it would take over four centuries to see how God’s good plan included both centuries of oppressive slavery in Egypt, as well as a miraculous deliverance and the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises!
In fact, this often seems to be God’s pattern in the history of redemption. Look at this:
In Gen. 45, we read “I am Joseph!…It was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.”
Over 400 years later, we read in Ex. 3: This is what you are to say: “I am has sent me to you.’”
Then 700 years later, we read in Isa. 60: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord…has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…”
Finally 700 years after that, Jesus proclaim in John 8 and 10: “I have come here from God.
I have not come on my own; God sent me….…the One whom the Father… sent into the world. I said, ‘I am God’s Son’.”
Or to put it another way:
God sent Joseph – to save lives by a great deliverance from famine.
God sent Moses – to bring about a great redemption from slavery.
God sent Isaiah – to proclaim that the Messiah would come to bring freedom and release from bondage and slavery to sin.
God sent His Son – to accomplish this ultimate salvation and victory over Satan, sin and death!
God sent His Spirit – to apply this salvation and sanctification to our hearts!
God sent someone to you – to tell you about this glorious gospel.
And now God is sending you – to speak of this life-transforming, sin-forgiving, heart-renewing Good News of Jesus Christ as Lord, Savior, and Treasure!
“God sent me” – is the story of Joseph, of Moses, of Isaiah, of Jesus Christ, of the Holy Spirit, and of the people who brought the gospel to you.
Now God wants to send you… even through the hardships and pain you have suffered.
Will you trust Him for that?
Will you bow down before Him, in humble trust and obedience?
Appendix of Selected Passages of When God Sent People
Genesis 45:5 “I am Joseph!” (v. 3) 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.
Genesis 45:7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
Genesis 45:8 “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.
Exodus 3:13-14 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ “This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.
“I am who I am”
Daniel 3:28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.
Daniel 6:22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”
God sent His faithful followers first into a fiery furnace and then into a den of hungry lions, so that He could send His angel and show forth His mighty power and great love.
John 8:42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me.
John 10:36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?
“I am God’s Son”
Jesus to Saul in Acts 9: “I am Jesus.”
Isaiah 61:1 [ The Year of the Lord’s Favor ] The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,
Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,
Acts 9:17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”