4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. 9 Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay.NIV
“…God sent me ahead of you” (5b).
I note in the first place that Joseph did not try to sweep their wrong-doing under the carpet (4). He was honest with them. Authentic reconciliation can never take place while we make light of the injuries inflicted or the crimes committed.
But, he showed that he did not hold it against them. He demonstrated, quite remarkably, that he possessed a greater vision and a larger perspective. We have noted Joseph’s God-consciousness before. In today’s passage he refers to “God” no less than four times (5,7,8,9). He saw that, in the short term, he was “sent” to Egypt to save human life. This included their’s. But in the longer term, it was to “preserve…a remnant” (7). This refers to a “remnant” of Abraham’s descendants (Jacob’s family) who during their time in Egypt would grow into a great nation (Exodus 1:6-7). We know now, of course, that through one of those descendants, Jesus Christ, what happened to Joseph would turn out to be for the good of the whole world.
‘Here then is the deep significance of the story of Joseph and his brothers: God had a purpose in sending Joseph to Egypt, and He overruled human actions – both good and evil – to accomplish that purpose.’ Tom Hale: ‘The Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.195.