Read Genesis 42
Focus on verse 7-9
My brother and I had our share of disagreements as we were growing up together, but beyond his suggestion to my mother to take me back to the hospital when she first brought me home, I can’t think of a single time (at least that I know of) that he tried to sell me as a slave or tossed me in a well to die.
Joseph on the other hand, was both tossed in a well to die and then sold off to slave traders by his own brothers…which I suppose is marginally ahead of being left in the well to die.
Many years later his brothers are surprised and understandably afraid when they discover Joseph is in a position of power where he could easily even the score.
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. 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.” (v. 7-9)
Was Joseph simply testing his brothers to see if they had changed, or was there a little touch of vindictiveness in his treatment of them in this account. In the grand scheme of things one must commend Joseph for his patience all things considered. These were the guys who tried to kill him, and he only survived because there was one brother who was able to talk the rest out of leaving him in that well to die…though, after they sold him to the slave traders they actually thought he was dead.
In today’s chapter he now has the upper hand – he has a chance to even the score – and in my opinion, he goes easy on them. In those instances where he gives them a hard time, it seems that his motive is more along the lines of attempting to determine if their hearts have truly changed. Regardless of what his motive may have been, it is clearly an example of a demonstration of grace extended to a group of people who did not deserve it.
Many years later in the New Testament there is another story of a group of people to whom God extends grace – even though they don’t deserve it. The story of Joseph could be considered a foreshadowing of what God did thousands of years later when He takes on human flesh appearing in human form in the person of Jesus Christ. Just as Joseph was rejected by his brothers, Jesus was rejected by His own people, betrayed and sold out by one of His own disciples. Handed over to the Romans to be mistreated and killed…all of which He endured so that He could extend eternal life to not only His own people (the ones who betrayed Him) but also any others who would approach Him for the mercy and grace He offers. From beginning to end the Bible is a story of God extending His grace to people who don’t deserve it.