Having tested his brothers and seeing that they were brought to repentance as evidenced by their moral transformation, Joseph was ready to reveal his true identity. It is not surprising that they were perplexed at Joseph’s announcement. How could this shaved face Egyptian governor weeping before them be their brother, the teenager they had sold 22 years previously? All doubt was removed however as Joseph, so moved by the love and solidarity his brothers expressed both to Benjamin and their father Jacob, embraced his brothers and wept over them with great affection.
His words “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt,” would have been threatening were it not for what he said immediately following: “And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life” (vs. 5). Joseph moves immediately to assure them that they are forgiven. Their being released entirely from guilt was not granted without cause. The brothers had come to hate and repent of their sin. This is a lesson for all repenting sinners. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
Joseph’s words beginning in verse 5 are also a classic presentation of what is often called “concurrence,” which belongs to the doctrine of God’s providence. Concurrence simply means that God’s sovereign providence includes the free actions of his human creatures. That is, God works out his will in such a way as to include the free actions of people but in such a way as his will is done infallibly. For instance, the fact that those who conspired against and crucified Jesus acted according to their own sinful desires did not change the fact that Jesus was crucified according to the predestined plan of God (Acts 4:27-28). Likewise, Joseph’s brothers acted according to their sinful will and yet, for entirely different reasons, God was overruling all their actions to accomplish his sovereign will (50:20).
Having been reconciled, the family was brought, at Pharaoh’s insistence, from the scarcity of Canaan to the abundance of Egypt, there to live in peace and comfort. It is a signpost of those eternal blessings promised to all who have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. It is a reminder that all the goodness which has been lost because of sin will be restored in the new creation. Jesus our older Brother and Savior will himself redeem us completely and fit us for this glorious eternity. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).