3. THE PURPOSE OF THE BOOK 15-21 a. People are evil. After the brothers return home they begin to consider their position. They are still plagued by the guilt of what they had done to Joseph. They fear that since their father is dead there is nothing that would prevent Joseph from taking revenge upon them. While their father was alive, they were safe but now that he is gone their lives were in jeopardy. This is very reminiscent of the conflict between Jacob and Esau. Remember how Esau comforted himself over the betrayal of Jacob? He said to himself, “just wait until Dad dies, then I’ll kill Jacob.” But this is not Esau. We are given no hints in the text that they have any reason to suspect that Joseph was plotting their deaths. What the brothers are doing is projecting their sinful inclinations onto Joseph. How many times do we do this? How often does this happen to you? We look at our temptations to sin and our sin twisted ways of thinking and put that on someone else then we accuse them of wrongdoing when they weren’t even tempted to sin. Maybe they’ve never even struggled with that temptation to sin. We accuse someone of something that has never even entered their mind. So they send a message to Joseph that said that Jacob commanded him, before he died, to forgive his brothers. After the message was sent, then they decided to go personally before Joseph and plead their case. They go before Joseph and they fall before him and say, “Behold, we are your servants.” Do you see how foolish these men are? Their sin is clouding their judgment. b. God is good. When Joseph receives their message he wept. Even though they had discussed everything 17 years ago the brothers accuse him of plotting their deaths. These are tears of sorrow over their suspicion. But Joseph does not hold this against them. He tells them to not fear. They have no reason to be afraid. He is not and probably never plotted their deaths so their fear is unfounded. He then points the brothers to God. Am I in the place of God? Am I your judge? He is basically telling them that it was not him they had to worry about. Their problem is with God not him. They were going up against the will of God. Their wills were bent on evil. They meant to do evil against Joseph. But God meant good for Joseph and not only him but the numerous people that were saved through the actions of Joseph. God brought the famine but he also brought Joseph to save people out of the famine, especially the household of Jacob. So the brothers had no reason to fear. And to help confirm what he is saying and comfort the brothers he promises to care for them and their little ones. This is one of the main purposes of this book. Matthew Henry points out, “When God makes use of men’s agency for the performance of his counsels, it is common for him to mean one thing and them another, even quite the contrary, but God’s counsel shall stand.” This prepares us for when we read the gospels and we hear Peter preaching in the book of Acts. “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” He was delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God. They crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. They had contrary plans but God won.