I love the way the Bible writers write – little clues like repeating the same phrases – to help you understand the significance of key moments. Take 42:6 for example:
…when Joseph’s brothers arrived they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground.
sound familiar? Remember 37:10:
…his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?”
the point of the repetition is that it happened just as God had shown it would in the dream many years before. Through many trials and much suffering, despite the betrayal of family, friends and acquaintances, God had remained faithful to Joseph and had brought him through it all.
BUT, Joseph’s dream hasn’t quite come true has it – not all the brother are there, one is missing – and so begins the final act of the drama. I find these next chapters very poignant. Jacob is scared stiff of losing another son, and fair enough. But what he doesn’t realise is that at the end of it all far from losing another son, he will actually get back the son that he thought he’d lost so many years before. There’s something of the gospel in that isn’t there? We struggle to let go of a life that isn’t really worth living even though the promise of eternal life is on offer. We fear what we will lose when there is so much to gain.