For the week of January 6, 2001 / 11 Tevet 5761
Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 44:18 - 47:27
Haftarah: Ezekiel 37:15-28

That's Funny, You Don't Look Jewish!

Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph! Is my father still living?" But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence (Bereshit / Genesis 45:3).

When Joseph's brothers appeared before him in Egypt, they didn't know who he was. So much had occurred from the time they sold him into slavery. Now he was second to Pharaoh and chief administrator of Egypt's storehouse of food. The famine had hit Canaan severely, which is what brought Joseph's brothers to Egypt.

They came and spoke with Joseph twice, and both times they had no idea at all who he was. Their own brother - and they didn't recognize him.

They had no idea that he was about to become their source of care and provision. He was going to save them from death by starvation and provide them with the place where they would prosper as a nation. Joseph was their savior and they didn't know it.

They didn't recognize him for a couple of reasons. First, they never would have expected to see him in that place. They sold him as a slave, but now he was a top official in Egypt. Sometimes when we see someone we know in an unusual place or situation, we have difficulty recognizing them. Second, Joseph both looked and sounded Egyptian. There was no way they would have figured out on their own that he was their own flesh and blood. If he would not have revealed himself to them, they never would have even guessed that he was their brother.

But he was. Their lack of recognition didn't change that. Whatever they did to him in the past didn't change the fact that he was currently in the position he was. Little did they know that their sin was what began the chain of events that led Joseph to this high position that in the end would be the source of their own salvation.

It was God's will that Joseph become as an Egyptian so that he would come to the help of his own family one day - and not just his own family, but the source of salvation of many peoples.

The process that God put Joseph through made him unrecognizable to those who were closest to him. But this process was necessary.

And so too it was necessary for the Messiah to go through a similar process. It was God's plan to bring his salvation to not Israel only, but to all nations. And so through the transgression of his own people, he has become the Savior of all who trust in him.

But as a result of this process, Yeshua has become unrecognizable to his own people, seemingly to have become a god of the Gentiles.

But one day, he will again speak to the people of Israel, just like Joseph did to his brothers, and say, "I am your Messiah." The reaction of his people will be similar to that of Joseph's brothers - terror and bewilderment. As said through the prophet Zechariah:

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son (Zechariah 12:10).

What a shock it will be, but like Joseph and his brothers, a wonderful reconciliation.

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