Mar 30, 2014 |Genesis

From Self to Sacrifice

03.30.14 | Genesis

From Self to Sacrifice

James Granger

Joseph was used by God to save and sanctify. Jesus was used by God as a sacrifice to save the sinful. Joseph, being like Jesus, was used by God as a sacrifice to save the starving.

Watch Watch
Listen Listen

Genesis 42:3-45:28 (Use this link to follow along in your Faithlife Study Bible)

A test is:

  1. A set of questions or problems used as a means of evaluating the aptitudes, skills, or performance of an individual.
  2. The means by which he presence, quality, or genuineness of anything is determined.

Tests reveal what is already true about someone and are also often used by God to help people grow.

So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with his brothers, for he feared that harm might happen to him. Thus the sons of Israel came to buy among the others who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan. Now Joseph was governor over the land. (Genesis 42:3-6)

Joseph’s faithfulness and character had been tested all through his life, and here he faced his biggest test.

“And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground. Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them. “Where do you come from?” he said. They said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.” And Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him.” (Genesis 42:6-8)

The entire world was hungry, and Joseph controlled the food. His brothers came to buy food for their family back in Canaan.

And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed of them. And he said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see the nakedness of the land.” They said to him, “No, my lord, your servants have come to buy food. We are all sons of one man. We are honest men. Your servants have never been spies.” He said to them, “No, it is the nakedness of the land that you have come to see.” And they said, “We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan, and behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is no more.” But Joseph said to them, “It is as I said to you. You are spies. By this you shall be tested: by the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go from this place unless your youngest brother comes here. Send one of you, and let him bring your brother, while you remain confined, that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you.” (Genesis 42:9-16)

This idea of examining one’s life, or having one’s life examined, is all over the Bible:

I Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves.”

I Thessalonians 2:4 “…we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but to please God, who tests our hearts”

II Corinthians 9:22 “…we are sending our brother (Titus) whom we have often tested…”

I Timothy 3:10 “…and let them (potential Deacons) be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless.”

I Corinthians 3:13 “…the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.”

Jesus himself was tested often in the Gospels. Testing is commonplace, and it’s important. Why?

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

Joseph wants to test his brothers’ truthfulness:

Then they said to one another, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us.” (Genesis 42:21)

John 15:1-2

Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.”  They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter.  He turned away from them and began to weep, but then came back and spoke to them again. He had Simeon taken from them and bound before their eyes.” (Genesis 42:22-24)

Over the next two chapters, Joseph tests his brothers.

Then he commanded the steward of his house, “Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack, and put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, with his money for the grain.” (Genesis 44:1-2)

Throughout this testing process with Joseph, we witness a maturing process in Judah. His character is becoming stronger.  In fact, Judah had made a promise to his father Jacob about Benjamin.

And Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones. I will be a pledge of his safety. From my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever.” (Genesis 43:8-9)

“Now therefore, as soon as I come to your servant my father, and the boy is not with us, then, as his life is bound up in the boy’s life, as soon as he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die, and your servants will bring down the gray hairs of your servant our father with sorrow to Sheol. For your servant became a pledge of safety for the boy to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father all my life.’ Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the boy as a servant to my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers.” (Genesis 44:30-33)

This is a different Judah than we saw in Chapter 38.

Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him. He cried, “Make everyone go out from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God.” (Genesis 45:1-8)

Joseph was used by God to save and sanctify.

Jesus was used by God as a sacrifice to save the sinful.

Joseph, being like Jesus, was used by God as a sacrifice to save the starving.