Pain of Harsh Treatment

Wednesday: The Voice of God

Genesis 42:6-16 This week’s studies teach us that God sometimes needs to bring harsher things into our lives to show us our spiritual need.
The Voice of God

Joseph is God’s man in all parts of this story. He had been honored more than once as a prophet of God. God had spoken to him, guided him, protected him, and kept him from sin. Surely he was not left to his own devices now, but was rather acting as God’s agent in awakening the consciences of these brothers. His words were God’s voice to them. 

Probably this is what we are to understand by the reminder of Joseph’s dream about the brothers in verse 9. More than twenty-two years before this, when Joseph had been just a boy, he had dreamed that he and his brothers were in the field binding grain when suddenly his sheaf rose and stood upright and theirs gathered around and bowed down. Again, he had dreamed that the sun, moon and eleven stars bowed to him. This dream was fulfilled for the first time on this occasion when, as we are told, “Joseph’s brothers arrived [and] bowed down to him with their faces to the ground” (v. 6). When Joseph saw them bowing he remembered his dreams. Was that an accident? Could Joseph have remembered his dreams and not have also been reminded that the hand of God was in this business and would be until the end? 

Robert Candlish wrote that, in his opinion, if Joseph were left to himself he would have revealed himself in a moment, but that he was restrained by God who was using him for the salvation of his brothers: 

It was the Lord that brought [the dreams] to his remembrance, and Joseph, I am persuaded, recognized the Lord in this. At once he perceives that this affair of his brethren coming to him is of the Lord. It is not a common occurrence; it is not mere casual coincidence. The Lord is here, in this place and in this business; and therefore the Lord must regulate the whole, and fix the time and manner of discovery. If he had been left to himself, Joseph would not have hesitated a moment; his is not a cold or crafty temperament; he is no maneuverer; he would have had it all over within the first few minutes. But the Lord restrains him. He is, I cannot doubt, consciously in the Lord’s hand, doing violence to his own nature to serve the Lord’s purposes. And much of the interest and pathos of these scenes will be found to lie in the strong working of that nature under the control and guidance of the Lord.1

1Robert S. Candlish, Studies in Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1979), 652. Original edition 1868.

Study Questions
  1. What two early dreams did Joseph have? What did they mean, and how do we see their fulfillment?
  2. Review the story of Joseph.  Make a note of the occasions Joseph acts as a prophet, making known to others what the Lord has revealed to him.

Reflection: Can you recall any occasions where you were inclined to do or say something that would not have honored the Lord, and were restrained from doing so because your spiritual nature worked upon your conscience? 

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