Editor's Note: Every Sunday, DrydenWire.com publishes a submitted article in a weekly series from Pastor Brian Cole. If you would have a question for Brian or would like to learn more about him, visit his website or his official Facebook page.
So, why was Joseph considered great? Why does the Spirit of God hover over his life more than any other person in the book of Genesis, INCLUDING Abraham? What was there about Joseph that could have caused the Lord to say something like this to Moses who was the one that wrote Genesis: “Make a careful record of this man’s life so that future generations can spend an extended amount of time with him?”
Joseph wasn’t no superhuman. He was just a man.
- he never walked on water...
- he never performed a miracle...
- he certainly wasn’t free from trouble...
- nor was he any kind of superhuman saint.
With the Lord’s help and by his own admission, he interpreted some dreams, but he didn’t make any awesome prophecies. And so far as we know, he never wrote any holy scripture.
Then why was Joseph so great? He was great because of his faith in God, which manifested itself in noble attitudes towards others and his spectacular attitude towards the difficulties he found himself in, and we have covered that in great detail in the earlier messages about Joseph. A strong faith leads to a good attitude. And when those two essentials are in place, troubles become challenges to face and reasons not to quit!
As we pick up his story, we come to what seems to be an uneventful incident. I think the truth of the matter is that it is in the seemingly trivial and mundane details of our life that our attitude is tested the most! Most of life is not “off the hook spectacular.” Most of life is just your plain Jane ordinary stuff, right, definitely not much to write home to mom about!
Joseph knew this. He had seen his own attitude tested in high places as well as the low. But perhaps his greatest test was in the weight of the long haul. He wanted to see in his brothers some of the same attitude that God had worked on in him - a powerful faith in God and a positive response to others.
But his brothers still haven’t shown much evidence to show that they share Joseph’s perspective. So Joseph set up a two-part exam for his brothers.
As I was reading this account of Joseph’s dealings with his brothers, I wondered why it took a year or more before he revealed his identity to them. Why did it have to take so long?
I believe it was because there was no evidence of genuine repentance until the events of chapter 44. While Joseph’s brothers had come to the point of recognizing the hand of God in their trials during their first journey to Egypt (cf. 42:21-22,28), their response was more one of regret than repentance.
It was the genuine repentance of Judah and his brothers in this chapter which caused Joseph to reveal his identity, and thereby, turning their sorrow into rejoicing.
The reason I think this chapter is so vital to us today is that repentance is an indispensable part of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and yet it is very seldom discussed and frequently misunderstood. Our Lord’s last words to His disciples speak of the necessity of repentance: Luke 24:46-47 - “He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
Sure doesn’t sound to me like this is being preached to all to the nations, let alone in our own “churches.”
So let’s keep in mind the importance of Repentance as we go through this chapter, and I will spend the rest of the final minutes of this message getting into detail about repentance.
So let’s dig into the text.
44:1-2 - Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house:“Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack. Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.” And he did as Joseph said.”
As he had on their first visit to Egypt, Joseph ordered that his brothers’ sacks be filled with food, and that, once again, each man’s money be tucked into the top of his sack. In addition, Joseph had his own silver cup placed in the top of Benjamin's sack.
Then Joseph commanded his steward: Vs. 3-5 - “As morning dawned, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys. They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, “Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil? Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.’
The brothers weren’t far from the city when they looked back and saw the prime minister’s steward overtaking them.
Once he caught up, he accused them of stealing from the Egyptian leader.
Vs. 6 - “When he caught up with them, he repeated these words to them."
But the brothers responded: Vs. 7-13 - “But they said to him, “Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything like that! We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the silver we found inside the mouths of our sacks. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.”
“Very well, then,” he said, “let it be as you say. Whoever is found to have it will become my slave; the rest of you will be free from blame.”
Each of them quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it. Then the steward proceeded to search, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. At this, they tore their clothes. Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city.”
They didn’t hesitate to let the steward look through their sacks, beginning with Reuben, the oldest.
But lo and behold, when the steward got all the way down to the youngest, he found the silver cup in Benjamin’s sack! To say the brothers were stunned is an understatement! They KNEW they didn’t take the cup. How had it gotten into Ben's sack? As the implications of this circumstantial evidence hit them, they moved beyond stunned to distraught shown by tearing their robes!
They had to return to the city with the steward where they were immediately ushered into the prime minister’s presence. There, Judah took the lead.
Vs. 14-16 - “Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him. Joseph said to them, “What is this you have done? Don’t you know that a man like me can find things out by divination?”
“What can we say to my lord?” Judah replied. “What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants’ guilt. We are now my lord’s slaves—we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup.”
Before moving on, I just want to say this. I came to a speed bump here about this silver cup and divination, since divination is sin. I chose not to get into detail or my thoughts on this because of limited time and the fact that I really want to spend some time on repentance.
I personally don’t think Joseph practiced divination, but really encourage you do do your own study of this section of Scripture.
Join us next week as we continue with the text. Blessings to you all.