Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Like a surgeon's scalpel, the test cut deeper, down to the root of the problem area. The brothers had jealously rejected Joseph as Jacob's favorite son. Now, that Jacob openly loved Benjamin, what were their true feelings toward him? Was he also dispensable to them or had the brothers changed?
When the silver cup was found in Benjamin's sack, "they tore their clothes" in horror. This proved their protection of him and their concern for their father's feelings. This was different. They had displayed a total lack of those two things in Joseph's case.
There was no divination. The brothers would have expected such a pagan practice from an Egyptian leader, but Joseph worshiped God instead. There was no crime committed. Joseph set up this entire scene. But the brothers did not know any of this.
Judah stepped forward as the spokesperson and recounted what happened and why. In Chapter 37, it was Judah who suggested they sell Joseph as a slave. Now, he pleaded for mercy on behalf of Benjamin and his father. One can only imagine what Joseph was thinking as he listened to Judah's speech. Was the LORD God at work in their lives? Were the brothers truly sorry for their sin against him? Was Joseph ready to forgive them? Was this the right time for a full reconciliation?
Judah's question in verse 16 is the same one every human heart asks when they realize they have done wrong. "How can we clear ourselves?" Sin separates us from God and others. The question was really prompted by his statement of guilt that followed. Guilt is a good thing from God, meant to drive us to repentance. A salient ministry of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of sin.
Sin cannot be rationalized and it will not go away by itself. Jesus substitutionary sacrifice on the cross is the one and only payment for our sin. The Apostle John wrote: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
The plot continues to unfold, piece by piece. In each meeting, Joseph interjected more clues for his brothers. In Chapter 42, there are five of them.
-He asked about their father.
-He subtly inquired about Benjamin.
-He stated that he feared God.
-He forced their return by holding Simeon.
-He secretly returned their money.
Here in Chapter 43, Jacob was torn between the fear of losing another son and the reality of the famine. His family was in jeopardy either way. He reluctantly did what he had to do with hope in the mercy of God Almighty (v.14). It is interesting that in his depression, Jacob does not mention the unconditional covenant God made to Abraham, Isaac and to him. The promises of God included innumerable descendants, the land, and that his family would be a blessing to all nations. Nothing can pull us out of an emotional pit like reviewing the word of God and trusting God's faithfulness.
The brothers went to Egypt in fear. But five more clues emerged that only added to their confusion.
-The servant revealed that he knew the money had been returned to them and gave God the credit.
-Joseph again asked about their father.
-Joseph asked about their youngest brother.
-Without asking, the men were seated according to their age.
-Benjamin's food portion was five times that of his brothers.
Is Joseph playing a cruel game with his family? Is this his way of seeking revenge? Is he being nice to them only to set them up for disaster? The answer to all those questions is no. Joseph is in a unique position to test their sincerity. He already knows they feel guilty (42:21-23), but are they repentant of their sin?
Quite often God uses our circumstantial confusion to help us deal with unconfessed sin and seek to resolve fellowship with Him and our relationship with others. It is not a cruel game but the deliberate work of a loving heavenly Father. In hindsight, we can see the clues and thank Him for pursuing us.
Monday, April 24, 2017
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Friday, April 21, 2017
Thursday, April 20, 2017
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Monday, April 17, 2017
Saturday, April 15, 2017
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Jacob and his family knew better but had become lax in their faithfulness to God. Over time they mixed their faith in God with the false practices of the culture around them. This is a call for renewal.
First of all, repentance was required. They were ordered to put away those things that were displeasing to the Lord. Next, they were to worship God.When they made these bold decisions, took care of the potential threats around them (v.5).
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Monday, April 10, 2017
Saturday, April 8, 2017
Friday, April 7, 2017
God intervened, spoke, or His presence was acknowledged no less than eleven times in this chapter. When there injustice exists and people are being mistreated, God is there. He sees and He hears. All too often, those involved refuse to acknowledge the Lord's presence and their accountability to Him for their actions.