Thirteen years had passed since Joseph was sold to the Ishmaelites. Thirteen years he lived as a slave to Potiphar, and then as a prisoner. For the last two of those thirteen, he waited for the cupbearer to remember him and in some way help bring his release. During all this time, Joseph had no signs of redemption or reason to hope. That’s not as long as Abraham waited to see God’s promises fulfilled, or as long as Moses will pout in the desert before God sends him back to Egypt. But it’sstill thirteen years of heartache and difficulty. Have you found yourself in a season of trial, or pain, or waiting? Have you wondered how long it will last, or when you might hear from God or find some relief? Don’t lose faith; don’t give up. Don’tgive up hope. Don’t give up on God. We cannot understand his ways or his timing (like we learned from Job), but if these biblical accounts teach us anything it is to persevere and know that there is an end to our suffering.
And what a reversal Joseph experienced! He had a unique, God-given history with dreams. His dreams helped bring him to his lowest. And his understanding of dreams, and ability to used by God to decipher dreams positioned him to become the second most powerful person in the known world! Talk about from rags to riches. His was from prison to royalty. Not only was he second in charge of the greatest empire of the time, but he increased the holdings and wealth of Pharaoh as well. Historians and archeologists tell us there was a period in Egypt when the Pharaohs suddenly and inexplicably rose to own all of the land, and even the wealthiest of Egypt were beholden to them. I think we see how that happened.
Then, by a twist of “fate”, Joseph comes face to face with his brothers. He hadn’t seen them for more than 20 years by now. With his Egyptian name and Egyptian persona, and the passing of time, they didn’t recognize their younger brother. But he knew them. How his heart must have leaped and ached all at once to see them again. But he had to know how much they had grown and changed before revealing who he was. So Joseph toyed with them and tested them.