We read in Genesis 45:4-5, “And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.”
Due to the very severe famine that raged throughout Egypt and the surrounding nations, the sons of Jacob made their way from Canaan down into Egypt to buy corn. They made the journey twice during the first two years of the famine, on each occasion meeting with the governor of Egypt himself, who they did not recognize as being their own brother Joseph.
We see the spiritual picture of this account as those who are lost (sinners) being fed by the hand of one whom they do not know. This is clear in Matthew 5:45, “for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Those that are lost and under the wrath of God will never recognize the Lord until He makes Himself known unto them. Like Joseph, Christ must reveal His identity to those who have sinned against Him. Furthermore, notice from Genesis 45:5 that when Joseph (a picture of Christ) begins to make Himself known to his brothers (those who have sinned), they become troubled. We see this demonstrated by Paul in Acts 9:3-6, “and as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.”
Notice the providence of God here by allowing all these events to unfold. Joseph was sold into Egypt, endured sufferings to preserve life. We see this displayed in Genesis 45:7, which states, “and God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” As Joseph was sent to preserve life and give deliverance, so Christ was sent from His Father to preserve life (eternal life) and give deliverance from the wrath of God. This is found in Acts 2:23, Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. As well as in Luke 4:18b, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.”