By Norman P. Grubb
Now, always the same things, a perfectly cool man, not without the stirring of outer reactions, but knowing from his inner center of Spirit how to handle things (Heb. 4:9-12). Now he is under entirely different circumstances – suddenly his brothers turn up…his brothers who had set out to murder him! And there they stood. That was when it says that he remembered the dream, as they bowed down before him. “Joseph’s brethren came and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth” (42:6). He saw his brethren and knew them, and remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them (42:9). That shows he always believed the dreams. They may have gone into the background as something that hadn’t yet happened…but there they were. That was the original inner awareness he had of God that God had spoken to him by a dream…and that was God.
It is interesting to watch how a relaxed man will handle the most delicate situation. What could he do? If he announced himself to his brothers, what would they do? Oh, my! Flee? Suddenly found they were confronted with the man they tried to murder! What would they do? How could he handle it so that they would become a reunited family? They were God’s family who were to propagate in Egypt, and become the great people of Israel. Moses would take them out and the history would start which ends in Jesus’ coming to found the new nation. How to handle it? So we see he was way beyond self-reaction. Like Paul, in 2 Cor. 4:15, he had a purpose outside himself. He wasn’t a man of vengeance. He hadn’t got that kind of thing in him, because he had God in him. His first thought was that, if he exposed himself, it might breach everything. Would they flee, or would they just pretend – a bunch of hypocrites – that they were sorry? So you see the point. How can I act now? They won’t know me, I know them. But we must become a reconciled family. We are God’s family. These are God’s servants.
Now we will see how God operated on them, worked on them through their guilt. So He took certain, what we call human actions, but actually guided actions. The first was, “Let’s have a little time, a little breathing space.” So, to keep them off, he bluffed it. “Oh, you’re spies.” They had no idea who he was. “I mustn’t have them near me because I’m not ready. They mustn’t find out who I am.” “You’re a bunch of spies.” Sort of put that kind of fear on them rather than the fear of the other kind. So they got to protesting. They said, “We’re just from our family, come to buy food.” “No, you are spies come to see that we have a famine and all the nakedness of the land.” Then they told their story. They talked about the family, the father at home. “Ourselves are twelve brethren, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not.”
That part gave Joseph his next lead, demand to see the other brother. “Oh, a young brother? That’s who I want to see. Here, I’ll strike a bargain with you. I’ll give you food, one of you go back to fetch your brother. I want to meet him and that will prove whether you are spies or not and you all stay in prison.” They were there three days. Then he changed his mind, saying that he “feared God” in maybe keeping them all as prisoners, so he would retain one but the rest could return with the food the family needed. But for them it was three days of conviction. It was as if they were getting back what they gave to Joseph. This was God’s judgment.
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By Norman P. Grubb