Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
I. The chief lesson of this chapter is the MINGLING TOGETHER OF THE PROVIDENTIAL GOVERNMENT OF GOD WITH HIS PURPOSE OF GRACE. It was part of the Divine plan that Jacob and his family should be settled for a long period in Egypt. It could only be brought about by the transference in some way of the point of attraction to Jacob's heart from Canaan to the strange land. Hence c, Jacob" is now "Israel," reminding us how the future is involved in all the events of this time. "Judah" is the chief agent in this matter. The very names are significant of Divine promises - "Judah," "Israel," "Joseph," "Benjamin." The conduct of Joseph cannot be explained except on the ground of his inspiration. He is not acting. He is not trifling with human feelings. He is not merely following the dictate of his own personal affections. He is, under Divine direction, planning for the removal of his father's house to Egypt that the people of God may pass through their season of trial in the house of bondage. Another point -
II. God's blessing on a TRUE HUMANITY THE THOROUGHLY HUMAN CHARACTER OF THE NARRATIVE. The tenderness, the pathos, the simplicity, the truthfulness, especially in the case of Joseph himself. How little he had been spoiled by prosperity! That is the criterion of real greatness. The Bible histories help us to keep in mind that real religion does not suppress the human, but preserves and develops all that is best and noblest in the man.
III. THE GRACIOUS WISDOM OF THE GOOD MAN IN HIS CONDUCT TOWARDS OTHERS. Joseph's dealing with his brethren gradually preparing their minds for the great announcement which was soon to be made. Both his kindness to them and his particular inquiries after Jacob, and affectionate salute of Benjamin, must have roused their curiosity and disarmed their terrors. As they "drank and were merry" with the great Egyptian ruler, and their youngest brother rejoiced in the special mark of favor, which was favor to all, they must have felt the bondage of their previous apprehensions slipping away from them, and have anticipated some good thing in preparation for them. Moreover, there may have been the intention working in Joseph's mind of accustoming the Egyptians to the sight of those Hebrew people, and so opening the way to their subsequent elevation when as his brethren he should settle them in Goshen. There was great wisdom in all this lingering in divulging the great secret.
IV. THE MARK OF FAITH IS A SINGLE EYE TO GOD'S GLORY. We should endeavor to blend the personal with the larger interests of God's kingdom, Family life should be based upon religious foundations. - R.
Genesis 12:15). And the brethren were evidently people of large possessions with a considerable retinue, as they were to carry food for so many; and they had brought the proof required that they were true men. Had Joseph intended to do them harm he might have done it before. It was conscious guilt that made them fear. What they had done to their brother suggested similar treatment being meted to them. Perhaps they had almost forgotten it. But God left not himself without witness to bring their sin to remembrance. The stain of sin on the conscience is indelible. Time cannot remove it. Occupation may turn the thoughts from it, but it returns again and again. The act of wrong may be little thought of at the time. Only afterwards is it felt that it cannot be undone (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:9). This explains the attitude of so many toward God. Why is there such slowness to receive the gospel just as it is offered? When men are bidden to their brother's table; when his will is declared they shall sup with me (cf. Revelation 3:20), why is there such shrinking as if they were being led into danger; as if God were laying some obligation on them which they cannot fulfill, to bring them into bondage for ever? It is because of sin in the heart; perhaps unfelt, unthought of; but it is there, the fact of a self-chosen life. And if these are invited to closer communion with God, straightway they are afraid; suspicious of God. And hence, when the gospel invitation is pressed, and the Lamb of God held up, and the power of the blood of Christ and the welcome for all proclaimed, and they are bidden to trust, to accept salvation, men try to fortify their position: "O sir, we have done this or that (cf. Matthew 18:26), clinging to distrust instead of striving against it.
I. THIS DISTRUST AND SUSPICION OF GOD ARISES FROM THE PRESENCE OF SIN NOT FULLY RECOGNIZED AS SIN; while the man is still trying to set good deeds against bad ones, or to find. excuses for faults. It is the effect of sin before conviction by the Holy Spirit. Real conviction brings to God (Psalm 51:4; Luke 18:13). It is unacknowledged sin that separates.
II. DISTRUST IS REMOVED BY A REAL BELIEF IN THE ATONEMENT (Hebrews 9:25), God's plan for reconciling the sinful to himself (Romans 3:26). Hence this is the turning point of the spiritual life (John 3:18); the great work (John 6:29) out of which, as from a germ, the whole Christian life must grow. - M.