Joseph Reveals Himself To His Brothers

“Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren.” (Genesis 45:1)

The moment of reconciliation. It is to this end that all of the actions of the preceding four chapters have been leading. It staggers the mind to think of the lengths that God has gone to in order for this very moment to come to pass; this point of reconciliation between the sons of Jacob wherein Joseph once again takes his place among them. We are reminded as we look back over the space of more than 20 years at Joseph’s dream, a dream where his eleven brothers bowed down before him (Gen. 37:5-7), that God truly does see the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). Yet would we even begin to imagine all of the things which God brought to pass in order to make this happen? Would someone entirely unfamiliar with this account of the life of Joseph even begin to guess what would transpire in fulfillment of the prophetic dream?

Nevertheless, we know that God did these things for one end: to bring the sons of Jacob back together in the safety of the land of Egypt. All that has been leading up to this moment — the testing, the accusations of espionage and theft, the threat of placing Benjamin into slavery — were done to bring the brothers to this point in time. Do we not greatly underestimate what God will do in order to bring people to the place where He wants them?
The reconciliation between the brothers and Joseph is a portrait of the sinner’s reconciliation to Christ. All of the moments of fear, trepidation, anxiety, guilt, confusion, and frustration which the sons of Jacob experienced during their dealings with this enigmatic “governor of Egypt” are hallmarks of many of our own experiences when Christ was drawing us to Himself. Some roads longer than others, all of us were brought through moments of emotional pain, struggle and inner turmoil until we reached the point when our hearts were ready and the Lord Jesus revealed Himself to us.
It is worth noting that before the actual moment of reconciliation begins, Joseph sends every other person out of the room. “Cause every man to go out from me“, he cries. It seems to be our practice as Evangelicals to want those making an initial decision to come to Christ to go to the front of the church and announce their decision in front of everybody. But isn’t this most crucial moment in a person’s life really between them and the Lord? Sometimes we act as though their conversion is only validated by a showy presentation in front of the entire congregation. “They must confess Christ with their mouth and not be ashamed of Him”, we explain (as though there will not be time enough for public proclamation later). There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with giving an altar call, but we do well to respect what is going on at the moment between them and God. Seldom do we really know everything that has been going on in the person’s life which has brought them to this point. We do not know all that the Spirit of God has been doing in their heart in order to prepare them for the Lord Jesus Christ to reveal Himself to them and reconcile them to Himself.
Joseph’s steward and many of his other servants played a part leading up to this moment, yet when the time came, Joseph sent them all out of the room. It was just the brothers and Joseph. Why? Because the moment of reconciliation was just between them. Many of us will play a role in bringing others to Christ, but perhaps we are mistaken in insisting that we be there at the actual moment when the person is reconciled to God. Maybe our Lord is politely sending us from the room for a moment so that He might rejoice in private with that person, just as Joseph did when his brothers were reconciled to him.To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,


[This post was originally published November 9, 2010]

All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]


5 responses

  1. Loren, there was so much in this one! Thank you! I’m in awe, thinking of all He does to reconcile us to Himself . . .all those things that we don’t always see and know. It”s helping me to look back over my own life and see those little points in time that could be overlooked, but were put there by Him. So thankful! And, I have been asked at someone’s passing, if they knew Jesus. Your post also blesses me in that regard. How do we know what all has taken place in that person’s heart, even in those last moments of life? There could have been a reconciliation that only they and Jesus were present at. :)
    Thank you so much for filling me up tonight! God bless!


  2. Loren,

    This is so very well put!…. Often, people are just nosey, curious — whatever one might call it….. They want to “see” the drama of another’s conversion to Christ, often just so they can “judge” how well he is staying on the straight and narrow later on.

    But, these really are private times, in which the Lord works in the hearts of people in His own time — not ours….. These are very precious moments that are not to be rushed by time constraints or the constraints of other people’s wishes and a program….. In the privacy that one can have with God alone, we are better able to rest in God’s love and forgiveness — and have the needed time to fully grasp and appreciate the depth and grace of salvation in Jesus Christ.

    Joseph’s love, empathy, and sensitivity to his brothers’ needs was, indeed, a very godly aspect of his life….. Joseph might also have been sensitive to the understanding of all the Egyptian unbelievers present…. There is no way they could have grasped what God had done in all sorts of events they were totally unaware of…. To see their leader speaking in Hebrew and loving mere Israelite shepherds might have been repulsive in their sight….. It makes me think of how even today, forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ is despised by this world of unbelievers.

    Thank you for this thought provoking post.



  3. Just wanted to let Margaret know, I loved her comment! :)


  4. It really is amazing when we look back and see the hand of God drawing us to Himself throughout different points in our lives. To see all of the times when He poured out blessings upon us when we didn’t even really know Him and the times when He allowed us to reach the end of our own ropes, both of which were specifically orchestrated by the Lord that we might turn to Him; how wonderful :)

    It seems that when most people ask us if someone who has passed on knew Jesus, they are asking if we know if they ever said a “sinner’s prayer” in front of a church or with someone who lead them to Christ. I believe that we will one day be surprised by the people who are with us in Heaven who maybe had more of the “Joseph and his brothers” kind of reconciliation to the Lord: just between the two of them.

    Thanks, Deb, so much for your thoughtful comments!


  5. Hi Margaret, thanks for commenting!

    I heard about an evangelist who used to carry around one of those notecard sized memo pads in his pocket, writing a tally mark on the pages for each person he “lead to Christ.” I think the objective the speaker who told this story was trying for was to inspire his listeners to be more proactive in their personal evangelism efforts. But to me, it seemed that doing this was greatly trivializing something very sacred. We evangelize to human beings with real lives, feelings, and emotions — not to potential hatch marks to be penciled into our own score cards! I agree with you: I think it is our own tendency to enjoy the drama of another’s conversion and our own curiosity that compels us to want to see people get up and perform a certain ritual when they come to Christ. Just as the evangelist who is more interested in filling his notebook with checkmarks (presumably for his own boasting) we become more interested in our own entertainment than the people who are making a decision to follow the Lord.

    I like what you brought up too about Joseph being sensitive to the Egyptians in his service. This moment of reconciliation probably would have been offensive to them. We do a lot of things in front of those outside of the Body of Christ in the interest of being certain that we are not ashamed of our Lord; so much so that I think we end up “casting pearls before swine.”

    Excellent comments, Margaret, and I agree with Deb: I loved them, too! (Also loved yours, Deb :) )


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