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VaYigash “And he drew near”
31 DEC 2011
In the last Parasha, Judah stepped forward on behalf of Benjamin and all the other brothers. As we continue in this week’s Torah portion, Joseph cannot restrain himself and reveals himself to his brothers (chapter 45).
Verse 16: Pharaoh hears the good tidings of Joseph and his brothers being reunited
Verse 21: Joseph dispenses gifts and sends his brothers off to their father Jacob.
Verse 26: Jacob was told the wonderful news of his son being alive in Egypt. His heart is revived.
In chapter 46 Jacob begins the journey to see Joseph.
Verses 29-30: There are 70 souls living in Egypt.
Chapter 47: Jacob meets Pharaoh and his family settles in Goshen.
The Torah portion opens with the revelation of Joseph's identity and reconciliation with his brothers. As we read the Parasha, Jacob is told that his son is alive and he is brought to Egypt along with the entire family where they settle and prosper in exile in Goshen. Joseph gathers the wealth of Egypt by selling food and seed during the famine.
We begin with Judah approaching Joseph and saying "Please my master! Your servant now wants to say something that my master will listen to. Please do not get angry at your servant, for you are as Pharaoh." What we have before us is a very touching scene. This family has hurt one another incredibly.
Joseph’s father is Jacob, also known as Israel. Jacob had several wives. By these wives Jacob had 12 sons and a daughter (Dina). Jacob favors one wife, Rachel, over the others and shows favoritism to the two sons he has fathered with her. Joseph is one of these sons. It has led to hate and discontent among the other brothers. They are caught up in the “father-always-loved-you-better-than-me” syndrome. Though it is understandable, what led these brothers to have these feelings due to the actions of their father; Joseph’s brothers did a horrible thing. They acted on their jealousy. Initially, in their hate, they intended to kill their brother and tell their father that Joseph had been eaten by a lion. Instead, a caravan conveniently passing by led them to sell their brother into slavery.
What a dysfunctional family! Yet we read in Genesis 45:1-45:28 that Joseph loves them and seeks reconciliation. “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 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. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But GOD sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 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.”
Joseph had not been acting as a long lost brother, but as the Egyptian viceroy appointed by Pharaoh. He put his brothers into jail and questioned them to try and get them to reflect upon their sin and come to repentance. When Judah gave this wonderful confession and offered this sacrifice, Joseph could no longer contain himself. In an instant he ordered all of his servants out of the room, and the well waters opened, as he burst out in tears. The brothers must have wondered what was happening when Joseph just blurted out, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?”
He lives! Think about that. What were the odds that Joseph would end up as the viceroy of the Egyptians second only Pharaoh himself? Yet GOD had predicted it through Joseph’s dreams. The brothers were beyond dumbfounded. It actually says, his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. If they had met Joseph on the road, back in Israel, or even as a slave, that would have been surprising enough. They wouldn’t have had to fear his vengeance. But as the ruler of Egypt, they suddenly realized that their hopes of a happy future were unlikely. The odds were for them to be whipped, stoned, or thrown into prison.
This reminds me of how terrifying it will be for those who have rejected Messiah, when He appears on Judgment Day. Revelation 1:7 says to look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him and wail because of their rejection of Him. Yet Messiah forgives. So, too, Joseph forgives. Joseph’s brothers were expecting a verdict of condemnation, for they certainly deserved it. But what did Joseph say to them? “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here.” Instead of condemning them and exposing their old blemish, Joseph only briefly mentioned that they sold him into Egypt. Since they had shown their repentance, from that point on, he forgave them. Four times he has to do so, even over 30 years after their act, to try and convince them that he really wasn’t going to get revenge.
This is a wonderful illustration of what GOD does with us. We, like Joseph’s brothers, live with unresolved guilt. Our consciences continue to bring up past sins, and we search for refuge, but don’t seem to find it in the excuses and attempts to reform our lifestyles. It terrifies us to think of standing before a holy GOD. But in an unpredictable way, our holy GOD and King, like Joseph, instead of condemning us as He should, does His best to reassure us.
We are forgiven. Messiah died for us (Romans 5:5-8). He promises us in Psalm 103:12 that, as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. These promises give us hope. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."
We are told over and over again that Yeshua was full of compassion for the sick, for the widow who lost her son, when He saw the multitude of people who were in need of healing, both physical and spiritual. Joseph wept over the brothers so Yeshua wept over His people. In a very real and physical way, Joseph embraced his brothers and let them see and feel that he really had forgiven them. So it is the same with us. The same was true with Jacob. GOD’s Word says, when they told him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent to carry him back, the spirit of their father Jacob revived.
Just as Jacob was revived when he heard that his son lives so should our spirit be revived, because Our King lives!
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