Genesis 45:3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.
What an amazing moment this is! Joseph’s brothers didn’t have a clue that they were dealing with their brother – the one they had sold into slavery over 20 years earlier! Events leading up to this moment had surely brought Joseph to mind because they were struggling with the idea that all the difficulties they had been encountering in Egypt were due to their mistreatment of Joseph.
If pressed, they probably would have thought he was dead. But regardless what his fate had been, they were likely convinced they would never see him again. Then, in the midst of this latest distressing turn of events with the cup found in Benjamin’s sack, they were beside themselves with grief because Benjamin would have to remain in Egypt as a slave. Their distress was so great that it finally became more than Joseph could stand.
Joseph ordered all of his attendants out of the room and revealed himself to his brothers. All of a sudden, the brothers’ distress turned into their worst nightmare! The one they describe as the ‘ruler of all of Egypt’ is not only the brother they sold into slavery, he is now in a position to wreck vengeance upon them. They had no idea how God had worked in Joseph’s heart.
Consider Joseph’s next comments: (Genesis 45:5-8)
“5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. 7But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.”
Think of it! Joseph had God’s perspective on all that had happened to him. He recognized that his brothers were simply the tools that God had used to get him there so he could fulfill the destiny God had for him. He bore them no ill will. He wasn’t just keeping himself from repaying them in kind for what they had done. God was using him to preserve for them a remnant and to save their lives. He was overjoyed!