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Gen. 43:1-34 - Banquet of Grace - Part Four
Now we come to one of those rare moments that almost defy description: Vs. 29: As he looked about and saw his brother Benjamin, his own mother’s son, he asked, ‘Is this the youngest brother, the one you told me about?’ And he said, ‘God be gracious to you, my son.’”
Here I think we have one of the most awesome sentences in Scripture.
“He lifted his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin.”
Joseph looked up and saw his blood brother for the first time in some 20 years! “He saw Benjamin, his mother’s son!” The only brother to whom he was totally related - same father, same mother. The other boys were really his half brothers, but Benjamin was his full blood brother, his only direct connection with his mother Rachel. How many of you reading this today understand this???? Joseph stood there, tears threatening too well up in his eyes as he gazed upon that beloved face. “Is this the youngest brother you told me about?”
“Yes, this is Benjamin.”
And Joseph said tenderly, “May God be gracious to you, my son.”
Suddenly, this great man, this strong-hearted and efficient prime minister of a mighty nation, collapsed inside!
Like the rest of us, great men and women encounter those times in life when they can no longer restrain their emotions. Composure flies away and feelings take over.
This is what happened to Joseph at this long awaited moment in time.
And at such sacred occasions, words fail us. Many times we just need to get alone to regain our composure, and Joseph did that here.
Vs.30 - “Deeply moved at the sight of his brother, Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep. He went into his private room and wept there.”
Can you imagine the scene here? All of a sudden, this handsome leader of millions had rushed into his den and collapsed into sobs. All the loneliness, all the loss, all the seasons and birthdays and other special occasions without his family. It was too much to stand, and the tears and sobbing poured forth. All of a sudden he was a little boy again, missing his daddy.
Yes, Joseph was a great and powerful man, but he was also a real human being with real human emotions who had enough humanity to step out of his position of power and have the strength to weep his heart out...
And then, it goes on to say that “he washed his face.”
Vs. 31-32 - “After he had washed his face, he came out and, controlling himself, said, ‘Serve the food.’” They served him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because Egyptians could not eat with hebrews, for that is detestable to Egyptians.”
After Joseph's emotional moment, there’s almost a little humor in this scene. Joseph was eating by himself, the brothers were eating by themselves, and the other Egyptians were eating by themselves. All these folks were sitting down to lunch in the same place, but eating at separate tables.
The Egyptians couldn’t bear to eat with the Hebrews. The New International Version study note says: “The taboo was probably based on ritual or religious reasons” and refers to Exod. 8:26, where Moses says to Pharaoh, “The sacrifices we offer the LORD our God would be detestable to the Egyptians.”
Vs. 33-34 - “The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest, and they looked at each other in astonishment.
When the portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as anyone else’s. So they feasted and drank freely with him.”
Joseph’s brothers were astonished at how they were being treated! They had expected any number of things to happen to them, including possible death, but they certainly didn’t expect this, right?!!
Now here they were, seated according to age, dining with the prime minister himself! And to top it off, the prime minister unloaded more food from his OWN table! Interestingly, Benjamin was served portions five times the size of the other guys! Those hungry Hebrews must have thought they died and had gone to glory!
Benjamin himself must have thought: “Man, I know I’m thin, but this is ridiculous, what’s going on here?”
By now Joseph must have been totally oblivious. “This is Benjamin! My brother!!” He was so stoked and overjoyed that he just kept piling on the food.
Sounds to me like something an older brother would do for one he hasn’t seen in ages, doesn’t it?
Amazing, isn’t it, how Joseph’s acts of grace freed up everyone around the tables. At the outset there were feelings of anxiety and dread and guilt. Their fear was overwhelming as they returned to Egypt wondering what was going to happen to them. But within a very short time they found themselves being treated kindly, sitting around a banquet table loaded with food, and, of all things, relaxing in the presence of royalty!
What relief! Better than that, what grace! They were the recipients of favor they hadn’t earned and kindness they didn’t deserve!
And they were overloaded with an abundance of provisions they could never repay, is anyone surprised they were astonished and no longer afraid? Their fear was now displaced by grace. Why? One reason - Joseph. This great man, though they did not yet know it, was their brother, and was determined to forgive their mistreatment and, instead, demonstrate great grace. Rather than remind them of their wrongs and force them to pay for their cruelty and injustices from years gone by, he showed them favor to the maximum extreme.
Could ANY of us honestly say we would have done as Joseph is doing if the tables were reversed? This reunion was really a banquet of grace - on full display - thanks to Joseph, a man of integrity and forgiveness!
And speaking of a banquet of grace, the Lord Jesus christ offers you that same undeserved grace as a gift. You haven't earned it, you don’t deserve it, but He loves you so much regardless of your sin and rebellion, and He invites you to his table also...
Blessings to you all.