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Gen. 42:1-38 - Guilt and Grace - Part 3
Last week we left off with Joseph’s brothers feeling conviction about what they did to Joseph. Joseph has money put into their bags before they left, and while on the trip the brothers noticed the money and freaked out. We now continue with the story and have have Dad’s very telling reaction in vs. 29...
Vs. 29-38 - “When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them. They said, “The man who is lord over the land spoke harshly to us and treated us as though we were spying on the land. But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies. We were twelve brothers, sons of one father. One is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in Canaan.’
“Then the man who is lord over the land said to us, ‘This is how I will know whether you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take food for your starving households and go. But bring your youngest brother to me so I will know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you, and you can trade in the land.’”
As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man’s sack was his pouch of silver! When they and their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened. Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin.Everything is against me!”
Then Reuben said to his father, “You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back.”
But Jacob said, “My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow.”
Jacob is overcome with fear and fear just creates its own reality. We have seen this with Jacob again and again, haven’t we?!
Me too. We all struggle from time to time fearing a certain thing is going to take place. And what we sometimes do is we kinda play out that fear, don’t we?! Fear creates this irrational alternate reality!
Here’s Jacob, I’m sure if he woulda just gone to the Lord in prayer, God would have spoken to him. Here he is captured by fear and totally caught up in this alternate reality that his fear has created... “Woe unto me, life’s just not worth living and all things are against me...”
When the true reality is, dude, your son that you think is dead, he’s running the world - you see the contrast the Word of God is setting up here about fear and the alternate reality? The son, who you think is dead, is the Prime Minister of the wealthiest nation on the planet.
So what this is telling US, is rather then being bound by the spirit of fear, had he just sought the Lord, I’m sure the Lord would have brought comfort to the man and brought insight to him.
Jacob, though, he’s just digging in his heels. Benjamin’s not going anywhere. Meanwhile you got Simeon rotting away in prison with the rest of the Egyptian criminal population. God is gonna play this out and He’s going to orchestrate His sovereign rule over the affairs of this family. This will become the Nation of Israel, and we’ll see this all play out in awesome fashion in the next 3 chapters.
What we see in this story is that God is behind the scenes bringing about all things according to His will and His purposes - He is in control of ALL the circumstances and situations. So what you and I need to continue to come against, in our own hearts, is that default human nature that has this tendency to just cast everything in a negative light, and particularly when we’re more concerned with others than we are our own sin.
If we take time to prayerfully meditate upon that this week, we’re gonna recognize all these situations and circumstances that took place in our lives way back when, where at one time we thought - “Oh, this is bad, this is horrible...”
But now we’re able to see how that thing we thought was so negative was the very thing that God used to produce and bring about something very positive in our lives!!
So the lesson that we continue to see playing out before us in the Word of God is that it is not our responsibility to manipulate or change circumstances that come our way, but our responsibility lies solely in how we RESPOND to those circumstances, and that we do so in a Godly manner. Rather than allowing the world to corrupt us and lead us into bitterness and anguish and all of those things, we just need to continue to press into -
- exposing our hearts to the Word of God,
- exposing our hearts to the H.S, and asking God to convict us in our own hearts - what is it He’s trying to teach us, RATHER than looking at the sins of others or the former sins of others, or the circumstances around us.
So we should be praying that God would give us the grace that our hearts would remain soft before Him, so that, rather than the world changing us, we would go out and be instruments of change to a hurting and unbelieving world on behalf of the Lord.
In ending, let me finish with this: We are all deeply flawed people, sinning against and hurting one another. We often long desperately to overcome the shame of our sins against others and the pain of others sin against us. But at the same time, we often only view the sought-after reconciliation horizontally, looking at other people. When our vision is limited to our interactions with one another, we almost always end up facing the great chasm of sin - ours and theirs - that lies between us.
However, running through the story of Joseph’s family - as well as the whole Bible and of history - is the even more profound truth of the Gospel. The truth is that our situation is both far worse and far better than we could ever have imagined. It’s far worse than we think because the things we do to each other are the evidence of our fractured relationship with the One who made us, takes care of us, and sustains our very life.
The great turning point in the brothers’ self-awareness came when they began to see that the evil they had done against Joseph was first and foremost a sin against God, deserving of punishment.
Yet at the same time, our situation is far better than we can imagine because the God against whom we have offended has already reconciled us to Himself. If God had been primarily interested simply in paying Joseph’s brothers back for their sin, why not leave them in Canaan to die from the famine? That was not God’s plan, however. Long before they realized their guilt, God had already put everything in place to save their lives. Most amazing of all, their salvation hinged on God using their worst sin to accomplish His saving purposes.
The betrayal of the best-loved son of their father, which led to his enslavement, suffering, humiliation, and unjust imprisonment, became the means by which God raised him to a position of power and influence for the saving of many lives.
Just as a room may be lit, so that through a doorway you see someone’s shadow on the wall before they themselves walk through, so Joseph foreshadowed the coming, many generations later, of his distant nephew, Jesus!
Jesus, the beloved Son of His Father, became our brother in order to suffer injustice, humiliation, and death at our hands, for our sin. Jesus then rose from the dead and was exalted to the highest place. From there, He gives us a new life, the Spirit, and resurrection hope.
Unlike Joseph, Jesus did not wait until prompted by circumstances to pursue reconciliation with us.
Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit have known from before all time exactly how they would right our wrongs and undo our evil. On the cross, Jesus bore the penalty for our sin and the shame of our suffering, while the Spirit now applies to us all the benefits of His unbroken oneness with the Father.
So when Jesus calls us to believe in Him, it is the call to recognize him both as our brother, like us in every way except sin, and as our Lord, who rules over us for our protection, our good, and our joy. The Spirit gives us that very faith to believe. And when Jesus tests our hearts through the trials and disappointments of life, it is not to discover an answer about us that He does not know, but rather to reveal to us the growing fruit of the new life that He has planted in us.
Blessings to you all.