IV. JOSEPH SHOWING LOVE
TO HIS BROTHERS
Joseph’s brothers were under his control, and he could have done whatever he wanted with them. If he had wanted them beheaded, he had the authority to command it. He also could have feasted with them if he had wanted to do that. But as one representing the reigning aspect of the mature life, Joseph behaved in a proper way toward everyone. Because not all his brothers were the same, he did not treat them all in the same way. The one who was the most evil required the most thorough discipline. As a type of Christ, Joseph did the same thing to his brothers that Christ will do to the nation of Israel in the future. First, Joseph disciplined them. In a sense, he terrified them. When I read about this as a child, I wondered why Joseph did not show love to his brothers. I thought that he should have immediately said, "I am Joseph, and you are my brothers. Let us embrace, dance, and have a feast." I wondered why, instead of showing love for his brothers, Joseph put them into prison. Joseph did everything soberly and with discernment. But this did not mean that he had no love for his brothers. On the contrary, he had a great deal of love toward them. However, at the time he could not openly display his love for them. Rather, he had to extend love to them in a secret way. He did this by restoring their money and by giving them provision for their journey (42:25). Because Joseph’s brothers did not understand his wise dealing with them, they were frightened by his secret love.
I hope that the Spirit will speak more to you regarding these matters than I am able to utter. In the church life we need to learn to be calm and to restrain ourselves. We also need to learn not to show our glory. Moreover, we must learn to do things not in a careless and foolish way, but in a sober and discerning way. Finally, we also must have love for the brothers, even for those who require discipline. This is the life of Joseph. In the church life we need a calm life, a sober life, and a discerning life. If we have such a life, we shall know how to relate to the brothers and sisters. But whatever we do must be underlined with a secret love, a love that cannot be shown openly.
Verse 28 says, "And their heart went out, and they were afraid, saying one to another, What is this that God hath done unto us?" (Heb.). This was the response of Joseph’s brothers when they found their money in the mouth of their sacks. When they found the money in their sacks, their heart went out, that is, their heart was exercised. They might have wondered about what had taken place in Egypt. They were terrified of what had happened there.
Joseph was a very sober person. I do not believe that anyone else could have done what he did. Genesis 42:9 says that Joseph remembered the dreams which he had dreamed of his brothers. Now, after twenty-two years, his dreams were fulfilled. If we had been Joseph, we would have forgotten everything in our excitement at seeing our dreams fulfilled. We would have said, "Now that our dreams have been fulfilled, let us forget everything else and be happy." But if Joseph had done this, enjoying to the uttermost the fulfillment of his dreams, he would not have been able to do anything to help his brothers. As far as he was concerned, he was ready to enjoy the fulfillment of his dreams. He did not need any more discipline. His brothers, however, certainly did need discipline. Thus, Joseph did not act for himself, but for his brothers. Rather, for their sake he was willing to sacrifice the enjoyment of the fulfillment of his dreams for a period of time.
Joseph’s dreams were fulfilled in his brothers’ coming to him and bowing down before him. If Joseph had intended merely to enjoy the fulfillment of his dreams, he could have said to his brothers, "I am Joseph, and I am so happy to see you. Let us eat together. Then you go back and bring my father here." Even in ancient times it would not have taken more than a few weeks for them to return home and to come back with their father. Joseph could have said, "I cannot wait any longer to be with my father. I’ve been away from him for more than twenty years. Now I want to enjoy his presence. I want to see him as soon as possible." No doubt Joseph desperately desired to see his father. But for the sake of his brothers he was willing to postpone his enjoyment. Joseph’s sacrifice of this enjoyment caused him to delay the enjoyment of the fulfillment of his dreams for at least another six months. The brothers had to go home, exhaust the food supply, and return for more grain. Eventually, their father came to Egypt to see Joseph.
(Life-Study of Genesis, Chapter 116, by Witness Lee)