We were blessed to have Pastor Al give part 5 of his 7 part series on the life of Joseph from Genesis 42-44: In this part of Joseph's life, he had not seen his family for 13 years! His brothers had betrayed him, sold him and forgotten him. Joseph's dream seemed to have died with the dreamer. But Joseph had never forsaken the dream, even though he may not have totally understood it. Joseph's faith was always strong in God. In the next three chapters of Genesis, Joseph meets his family again and exercises "tough love" to reconcile the family.
Three things happened in Genesis 42-44:
1) Joseph puts a test before his brothers. Because of a famine, Joseph's brothers come to Egypt and God fulfills Joseph's dream when the brothers bow down before him. The brothers don't recognize Joseph even though he recognizes them and Joseph puts a test before his brothers by accusing them of being spies. In order to prove their honesty, they must bring their youngest brother Benjamin. This turn of events causes them great anguish and they suspect that all of this misfortune is a judgment for their guilt against Joseph in the past.
2) Joseph's brothers return to Egypt. When the grain from the first trip runs out, the brothers must return to Egypt and they know that they must bring Benjamin. This causes great stress and chaos to the family and Judah steps up to assure Jacob of Benjamin's safety. And when they come before Joseph again, the family is reunited -even though they still don't know it.
3) Joseph puts another test before his brothers. This time Joseph tests the brothers again by falsely accusing Benjamin of stealing. Judah is willing to sacrifice himself so that Benjamin can return to Jacob.
Pastor Al concluded that Joseph is testing the family by tough love. Why? Joseph's tests bring integrity and unity and sacrifice to the family that will eventually bring healing.