S: Genesis 42:6-24 6 Now Joseph was the ruler of the country, the one who sold grain to all the people of the country. Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the ground. 7 When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger to them and spoke to them harshly. He asked, “Where do you come from?” They answered, “From the land of Canaan, to buy grain for food.”
8 Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. 9 Then Joseph remembered the dreams he had dreamed about them, and he said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see if our land is vulnerable!”
10 But they exclaimed, “No, my lord! Your servants have come to buy grain for food! 11 We are all the sons of one man; we are honest men! Your servants are not spies.”
12 “No,” he insisted, “but you have come to see if our land is vulnerable.” 13 They replied, “Your servants are from a family of twelve brothers. We are the sons of one man in the land of Canaan. The youngest is with our father at this time, and one is no longer alive.”
14 But Joseph told them, “It is just as I said to you: You are spies! 15 You will be tested in this way: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not depart from this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 One of you must go and get your brother, while the rest of you remain in prison. In this way your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If not, then, as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” 17 He imprisoned them all for three days. 18 On the third day Joseph said to them, “Do as I say and you will live, for I fear God. 19 If you are honest men, leave one of your brothers confined here in prison while the rest of you go and take grain back for your hungry families. 20 But you must bring your youngest brother to me. Then your words will be verified and you will not die.” They did as he said.
21 They said to one other, “Surely we’re being punished because of our brother, because we saw how distressed he was when he cried to us for mercy, but we refused to listen. That is why this distress has come on us!” 22 Reuben said to them, “Didn’t I say to you, ‘Don’t sin against the boy,’ but you wouldn’t listen? So now we must pay for shedding his blood!” 23 (Now they did not know that Joseph could understand them, for he was speaking through an interpreter.) 24 He turned away from them and wept. When he turned around and spoke to them again, he had Simeon taken from them and tied up before their eyes.
O: It was a long road from Joseph's brothers throwing him into the well and selling him into slavery till now, the fulfilment of the vision God had given him of them bowing down to him.
He recognized his brothers, as they were pretty much the way they were the last time he saw them, while they didn't recognize him because he was so changed -- from a teenager in desert nomad's clothes, he was now a man of high authority in Egyptian dress. They were further flummoxed by the fact that he spoke only Egyptian to them, using an interpreter, so they didn't realize he was a Hebrew. (Incidentally, I've seen many adaptations of the Joseph story to video/film, and many of them good, yet not a single one of them showed Joseph using an interpreter!)
So this gave Joseph the opportunity to overhear his brothers' possible remorse about the way they had treated him. But he still wasn't sure, hence the elaborate test he laid for them at this point.
There was no indication that he received any assurance that everything would work out for the best all those years he spent in slavery and in prison. Yet Joseph remained faithful to God and that enabled him to be in the position he was now in, with his brothers bowing down low before him.
Even at this point, the Long Road to Freedom wasn't over. Joseph could have taken revenge on his brothers right there and then. However, that wouldn't have been continuing on the long road to freedom, for although he was Prime Minister, he still wasn't free until he could wholeheartedly forgive his brothers. So Joseph continued to stay faithful to God, and saw this through to the end.
A: As David wrote in Psalm 37, we should not be envious of the prosperity of the wicked. We should not let that keep us from continuing to be faithful to God.
This doesn't mean that it will be easy to stay true to God's principles Even Joseph after his years-long commitment to following God found it hard to forgive when his brothers appeared before him. But he didn't give in to the temptation to get revenge. Instead, God allowed him to test his brothers so that it would be easier for him to finally forgive them, as we will see in the chapters following this passage.
The road to freedom may be long, but it is worth it. Keep on following God!
P: Father, when we feel unjustly treated, help us to remember that You are still in control. In Jesus' name, amen.
Picture credit: Avi Katz
Here's a theory about Joseph being the famed vizer of Egypt, Imhotep. (Note: I haven't investigated myself if his claims are correct or not.)
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)