Life of Joseph – Part 28 – The Tables are Turned

Today we’re going to look at the second half of Genesis 42 (it’s below). This continues the part of the story where one of Joseph’s dreams from his early years finally comes true — his brothers bow down before him.

Instead of the situation making Joseph want to celebrate, he actually becomes very sad.

He’s reunited with his brothers (although they don’t know that yet), he knows now that his father and only full-brother are still alive, and he’s in a position to save his entire family from starvation. And during today’s passage, he is so overcome with the situation that he has to take a break and go weep and then come back to deal with his brothers.

Now I understand this is a very emotional time, but personally I think there may be something else going on.

In today’s passage, the brothers discuss among themselves — and in front of Joseph — why they think they’re in this situation . . . being accused of being spies and spending 3 days in prison and now having to leave one brother here in prison in order to go home and get Benjamin so they can come back and buy more grain.

They’re blaming their current situation on how they treated Joseph 20 years ago. And Joseph understood what they were saying. He was just pretending to need an interpreter.

I think Joseph broke down because he was reliving that horrible day when they threw him in the pit and then sold him as a slave. But I think there was another reason. I think Joseph realized that now his brothers are in the pit . . . not literally like he was years ago . . . but mentally and emotionally and spiritually. I think Joseph saw that the tables had been turned. His brothers had thrown him in a pit 20 years earlier. But now his brothers’ guilt over what they had done to him was keeping them in a pit.

They had lived 20 years with the guilt of how they had treated Joseph and how they had lied to their father. And it looks like now they view any bad thing that happens to them as God’s punishment for what they had done.

I think Joseph realizes how much better off he is than his brothers. How defeated and demoralized they are.

In fact, I think Joseph actually feels sorry for them. And I think that’s something he wasn’t expecting.

We see more of the brothers’ thought patterns when one of them finds his money in his feed sack on the journey back home. “What is this God has done to us?”

When they report back to their father, they sound like whiny little boys complaining about the neighborhood bully.

But they got it honest, didn’t they. Listen to how Jacob responds to the demand they take Benjamin back with them if they want to buy more grain. He rehearses all the bad things he’s lived through and then talks about the “what if” that has ruled his life for 20 years. Then he says, “All these things are against me!”

Reuben adds more drama by telling his father he can kill his two sons if Reuben doesn’t bring Benjamin back safe and sound.

But Jacob still refuses because if something were to happen to Benjamin, he believes he would die of grief.

There’s no perspective. Just drama. Because Jacob is ignoring the fact they’re all going to die of starvation anyway if they can’t go back to Egypt and buy more grain.


Here are a few truths I saw:

– Unforgiveness will keep us in a pit until it’s dealt with. Even when God forgives us, we still have to forgive ourselves.

– Other people’s lives are rarely what we imagine they are. If we heard some of their private conversations, we’d understand they have their own problems.

– Moving away from home gives us a different perspective. It can make us more sensitive to the real issues in our families.


Application Questions:

– Who do I need to forgive? What do I need to forgive myself for?

– When something bad happens to me, who/what do I blame it on? Why?

– Whose life am I envious of? Why?

– How has my perspective changed after living away from home?


Genesis 42:21-38 / Amplified Bible (AMP)

21 And they said one to another, We are truly guilty about our brother, for we saw the distress and anguish of his soul when he begged us [to let him go], and we would not hear. So this distress and difficulty has come upon us.22 Reuben answered them, Did I not tell you, Do not sin against the boy, and you would not hear? Therefore, behold, his blood is required [of us].23 But they did not know that Joseph understood them, for he spoke to them through an interpreter.24 And he turned away from them and wept; then he returned to them and talked with them, and took from them Simeon and bound him before their eyes.25 Then [privately] Joseph commanded that their sacks be filled with grain, every man’s money be restored to his sack, and provisions be given to them for the journey. And this was done for them.26 They loaded their donkeys with grain and left.27 And as one of them opened his sack to give his donkey fodder at the lodging place, he caught sight of his money; for behold, it was in his sack’s mouth.28 And he said to his brothers, My money is restored! Here it is in my sack! And their hearts failed them and they were afraid and turned trembling one to another, saying, What is this that God has done to us?29 When they came to Jacob their father in Canaan, they told him all that had befallen them, saying,30 The man who is the lord of the land spoke roughly to us and took us for spies of the country.

31 And we said to him, We are true men, not spies.

32 We are twelve brothers with the same father; one is no more, and the youngest is today with our father in the land of Canaan.

33 And the man, the lord of the country, said to us, By this test I will know whether or not you are honest men: leave one of your brothers here with me and take grain for your famishing households and be gone.

34 Bring your youngest brother to me; then I will know that you are not spies, but that you are honest men. And I will deliver to you your brother [whom I have kept bound in prison], and you may do business in the land.

35 When they emptied their sacks, behold, every man’s parcel of money was in his sack! When both they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid.

36 And Jacob their father said to them, You have bereaved me! Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and you would take Benjamin from me. All these things are against me!

37 And Reuben said to his father, Slay my two sons if I do not bring [Benjamin] back to you. Deliver him into my keeping, and I will bring him back to you.

38 But [Jacob] said, My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead and he alone is left [of his mother’s children]; if harm or accident should befall him on the journey you are to take, you would bring my hoary head down to Sheol (the place of the dead) with grief.

Life of Joseph – Part 27 – Meanwhile, Back in Canaan

Today’s passage starts off back in Canaan, Joseph’s homeland.

The famine has now hit hard in Canaan, too, and Jacob (Israel), Joseph’s father, has learned that there’s grain for sale in Egypt. He accuses his sons of just staring at each other instead of figuring out how they were going to keep themselves and their families alive!

Later in the passage, I love how Joseph extracts information from his brothers that he already knows but has to pretend he doesn’t know. Reading through this part of the story, I can almost hear the wheels turning in Joseph’s head. He’s having to figure out how to keep his emotions in check, how to find out if Benjamin and his Dad are still alive, how to get Benjamin to Egypt, and later how to get the entire clan to move there so they’ll survive the famine.

The passage we’re covering today (Genesis 41:1-20) is further down, for your reading pleasure.

Here are the truths I saw in these verses:

(1) Dysfunction doesn’t just go away with the passing of time. In fact, it may get worse if not dealt with.

–  In the first couple of verses it sounds to me like Jacob was still treating his sons like misbehaving children.

– And he wouldn’t let Benjamin (Joseph’s only full brother) go with them on the trip to buy grain because he was afraid something would happen to him.

(2) Our God-given dreams sometimes happen decades later and in a way we would have never guessed — but we will know them when we see them come true.

Application Questions:

What dysfunction in my life and in my family needs to be dealt with?

What fears are still ruling my life? The life of a loved one?

What dreams am I still waiting to see happen?


Genesis 42:1-20 / Amplified Bible (AMP)

Now when Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, Why do you look at one another?

For, he said, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt; get down there and buy [grain] for us, that we may live and not die.

So ten of Joseph’s brethren went to buy grain in Egypt.

But Benjamin, Joseph’s [full] brother, Jacob did not send with his brothers; for he said, Lest perhaps some harm or injury should befall him.

So the sons of Israel came to buy grain among those who came, for there was hunger and general lack of food in the land of Canaan.

Now Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was who sold to all the people of the land; and Joseph’s [half] brothers came and bowed themselves down before him with their faces to the ground.

Joseph saw his brethren and he recognized them, but he treated them as if he were a stranger to them and spoke roughly to them. He said, Where do you come from? And they replied, From the land of Canaan to buy food.

Joseph knew his brethren, but they did not know him.

And Joseph remembered the dreams he had dreamed about them and said to them, You are spies and with unfriendly purpose you have come to observe [secretly] the nakedness of the land.

10 But they said to him, No, my lord, but your servants have come [only] to buy food.

11 We are all one man’s sons; we are true men; your servants are not spies.

12 And he said to them, No, but you have come to see the nakedness of the land.

13 But they said, Your servants are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; the youngest is today with our father, and one is not.

14 And Joseph said to them, It is as I said to you, You are spies.

15 You shall be proved by this test: by the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go away from here unless your youngest brother comes here.

16 Send one of you and let him bring your brother, and you will be kept in prison, that your words may be proved whether there is any truth in you; or else by the life of Pharaoh you certainly are spies.

17 Then he put them all in custody for three days.

18 And Joseph said to them on the third day, Do this and live! I reverence and fear God.

19 If you are true men, let one of your brothers be bound in your prison, but [the rest of] you go and carry grain for those weakened with hunger in your households.

20 But bring your youngest brother to me, so your words will be verified and you shall live. And they did so.





Notes from Havilah Cunnington Conference

I’m taking a break this week from our Joseph study. We’ll get back to it next week.

But today I want to share a few notes from a conference I attended at my church this weekend.

The conference was led by Havilah Cunnington. If you’ve never heard of her (which I hadn’t), check out her website ( and her YouTube videos. She is amazing.

The conference she led at our church was based on her Bible study “I Do Hard Things” and it was about facing trials and also giving ourselves permission to dream again after we’ve been knocked down by life. She has 30 days of short video devotionals based on this Bible study on her YouTube channel.

She preached four sermons and there’s no way I can recap them here. So I’m just going to share a few nuggets that I was able to capture on paper. And I’m sure they’re not exact quotes because she spews out nuggets of truth faster than McDonald’s cranks out french fries!

I know they’re not in context here, but I believe God can still speak to you through them. Enjoy!


Pain has a voice. It says, “Do whatever you need to do to make it stop!” Because we were not created to live with pain.


You don’t need anyone else with you to live an abundant life.


When we’re in pain, there are two lies that are easy for us to believe:

1. We have no one to help us. If you believe that you’re alone, then you’ll be a martyr. You have to stop being a martyr. When you take responsibility for where you are, everything changes!

2. We compare our suffering to others. When we see other people not suffering or not suffering as much as we are, we believe God cheated us!


You are equal to any hard thing you’re about to face.


The enemy would like nothing more than for you to pay for your sins! Don’t try to pay for them. Press delete and start again! When you mess up again, press delete and start again. It will become a lifestyle of power and freedom.


Grace is aggressive forgiveness.


We’re fighting FROM victory, not FOR victory!


Two lies the devil uses against us:

1. You can’t do it!

2. (And then when we start doing it . . . ) Who do you think you are?!?


God doesn’t use fear to motivate you. The fear you have in your life right now is demonic!


Hope changes everything, though nothing has changed.


God doesn’t have to abuse you to use you.


We’re responsible TO each other, not FOR each other.


A lack of boundaries is a sign of disobedience.


God holds me responsible for my yard, which includes my feelings, my attitudes, and my choices. If I manage what’s in my yard really well, I’ll have very little time for anything else.


I’m responsible for my feelings. No one else is powerful enough to make me feel anything.


An attitude is a learned disposition that comes from my values and what I believe about life. To change my attitude I will have to change my belief system.


We have to take 100% responsibility for our choices in order to change our life.


God uses boundaries with us. (Rev. 3:20)


We can’t set boundaries for other people and we can’t limit their bad behavior. Instead we have to set limits on our exposure to people with bad behavior or a lack of boundaries. And we have to set standards.


Powerful people don’t wait for permission to be powerful.


See you next week!

Life of Joseph – Part 26 – A Good Boss

Today we get a taste of what kind of boss Joseph now reports to. I don’t know your history, but I’ve worked for many bosses . . . and their styles have been varied. I’ve worked for bosses who were critical and some who were encouraging. I’ve had supervisors who micro-managed and some who hardly managed. I’ve worked for people who were easy to talk to and some who were totally unapproachable.

I think Pharaoh’s style of supervision we see in today’s passage is excellent. He makes the decision (with input from his team) to give Joseph the responsibility of planning, executing, and following through with a program to save Egypt during the coming famine. Then he allows Joseph the privilege of actually carrying out his plan . . . without interference. What a novel idea!

In verse 55 we see the trust Pharaoh had in Joseph and his plan. When the famine finally hits home, the Egyptians naturally run to Pharaoh to save them. Instead of (1) panicking and second-guessing his earlier decision or (2) seizing the opportunity to be the hero and save the day (and take the credit), Pharaoh told the people to go to Joseph and do whatever he said.

That’s one good boss!

Here is today’s passage.

Genesis 41:53-57 / Amplified Bible (AMP)

53 When the seven years of plenty were ended in the land of Egypt,

54 The seven years of scarcity and famine began to come, as Joseph had said they would; the famine was in all [the surrounding] lands, but in all of Egypt there was food.

55 But when all the land of Egypt was weakened with hunger, the people [there] cried to Pharaoh for food; and Pharaoh said to [them] all, Go to Joseph; what he says to you, do.

56 When the famine was over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians; for the famine grew extremely distressing in the land of Egypt.

57 And all countries came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all [the known] earth.



– (I know you’re possibly tired of hearing this one, but . . . ) What God says will happen . . . happens!

– Good managers don’t jump in and take over when catastrophe strikes. They allow their team to perform their jobs and execute the plan without interference.

– Joseph followed his plan even when pressure was escalating.

– Being prepared for the future allows us opportunities to bless other people when they are in need.

Application Questions:

– When have I taken over and done someone’s job when a catastrophe happened? Why did I do it?

– When have I been allowed to do my job during tough circumstances? How did it make me feel?

– When have I followed my plan even when pressure was high? On the other hand, when have I panicked and reacted to bad circumstances? What was different about the outcomes?

– When have I been able to bless someone because I was prepared for the future?