Origins: The Dreamers (Genesis 42–50)


Critical Conditions

By Pastor Dan Hickling

“When Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, Jacob said to his sons, '. . .go down to that place and buy for us there, that we may live and not die.’ So Joseph’s ten brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin.” Genesis 42:1-4 (NKJV)

Joseph’s story is among the most incredible accounts ever recorded, and it’s about to get a lot more interesting! To set the stage, Joseph has been providentially promoted to a position of power in Egypt, while his family (including his betraying brothers) are languishing in the famine-stricken land of Canaan. 

Conditions get so bad that Jacob sends his sons to Egypt to buy grain, but he holds back his youngest son, Benjamin. Being Joseph’s full-blooded brother, Benjamin undoubtedly reminded Jacob of Joseph, so there’s a sentimental tie there. But his other sons journey down to Egypt. Then, this story takes a twist that only God could have authored; “Now Joseph was governor over the land; and it was he who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the earth. . . . So Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. Then Joseph remembered the dreams which he had dreamed about them, and said to them, ‘You are spies! You have come to see the nakedness of the land!’” (Genesis 42:6-9 NKJV).

You can’t make this stuff up! The paths of Joseph and his betraying brothers cross once again. He recognizes them, but they have no idea who he is. And Joseph uses this to his advantage by accusing them of being spies, commanding one of them to retrieve Benjamin, and putting the rest in prison (Genesis 42:10-17). 

It’s important to understand at this point that Joseph doesn’t do this to be vindictive, but there’s actually a redemptive agenda underlying all his actions. But before we start to see this unfold, we need to pause and ponder an important spiritual reality revealed here. 

God used the practical circumstances of the famine to force this family reunion into happening. In the same way, the Lord will often employ the practical conditions surrounding us to direct our steps on the pathway of His will. From our vantage point, we can’t see that greater purpose; we just see the real-world needs that require our action. But rest assured, God is orchestrating a good and perfect plan for our lives and circumstances; even difficult ones are part of that divine orchestration. 

Remember this, those conditions that seem to be your taskmaster could very well be the Lord’s servant to bring you to the place He’s prepared for you!

DIG: How did God use practical conditions at this stage in Joseph’s story?

DISCOVER: Why is it important to understand God’s use of conditions in life?

DO: Consider what practical condition you should re-evaluate right now.