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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

October 5, 2016

Genesis 43:25-43:1-14

  1. Verses 25-28. Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain and to restore every man’s money in his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey. His brother's loaded their donkeys with their grain and departed from there. As one of them opened his sack to give his donkey food at the lodging place, he saw his money in the sack. The brothers were afraid. Joseph tested his brothers to see if they could still be bought off with money. Joseph wanted to know if they would do to Simeon what they did to him. I also think Joseph did this as a demonstration of grace. His motive was love. I doubt that he knew it would scare them as it did. The brothers panicked because they figured that when they returned for more grain they would be accused of stealing this money on the first trip. Interestingly, Joseph’s brothers have never mentioned God until now (cf. 42:18). It was Joseph's kindness in returning the money, which caused them to be afraid and to exclaim, “What is this that God has done to us?” God used a combination of fear and grace to get their attention and bring them to their knees.

  2. Verses 29-38. Jacob's sons shared with their father what had happened with the grain, about their brother they had to leave and the brother they had to return with. At this point, the brothers realize that all of their money has been returned. This must have been a sick feeling. “Their father Jacob said to them, ‘You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and you would take Benjamin; all these things are against me.’” While we can certainly sympathize with Jacob's emotions, he did not respond in a godly fashion. On the contrary, he responded in three inappropriate ways: 1. Jacob responded with blame: “You deprived me of my children.” (42:36) He did not accept responsibility for his favoritism or partiality. He did not acknowledge that he was a pathetic spiritual leader. Rather, he played the blame game. We have the tendency to do this as well. We blame our parents, spouse, children, boss, and church. We don't accept responsibility for our actions. Yet, this does absolutely no good! We would be further along to own our sin. 2. Jacob responded with pessimism: “All these things are against me!” (42:36) While this is a valid statement from a human point of view, from God's perspective everything that was happening was working for Jacob's good and not for his harm (Rom 8:28). Some believers are like Jacob--very pessimistic and very negative. We tend to think we are the only ones that have any problems. We then magnify our problems until they seem insurmountable. The result is that all we do is complain and act miserable. But as followers of Jesus, we must learn to trust Him and cling to Him during times of adversity. 3. Jacob responded with fear: “My son shall not go down with you.” (42:38). Jacob’s concern was legitimate, but not to the point of being paralyzed by fear. Jacob knew that he had to send Benjamin. He is merely postponing the inevitable. In doing so he paid a high price for his fear. He delayed sending his sons back to Egypt for more supplies. He prolonged the imprisonment of his son, Simeon. He delayed the miraculous and joyful reunion with his son, Joseph. Here is a study in contrasts: While adversity drew Joseph closer to God, for Jacob it seemed to destroy his faith. Joseph (the son) learned from Jacob (the father) and did not follow in his example.

  3. Then Reuben spoke to his father, saying, ‘You may put my two sons to death if I do not bring him back to you; put him in my care, and l will return him to you.’ Reuben may be sincerely trying to console his father, Jacob, but he has a strange way of doing it. Reuben offers Jacob the opportunity to have his bereavement increased by the death of two of his grandsons (Reuben’s children) if Jacob becomes bereaved of his own youngest son, Benjamin.

  4. Chapter 43:1-6. From the looks of things, Jacob did not rush to go get his son out of prison. He doesn't decide to send his sons back until the grain has run out. Up to this moment Jacob, is seemingly only concerned about having enough food. His son's plight is not the greatest priority. This is very interesting. Jacob appeared so sad at the news of his son’s captivity, but he doesn't rush to get his son out of bondage. Once again we see Jacob’s favoritism coming out. Jacob's sons remind their father that “the man” said that they would not be able to get any more food unless they had their younger brother with them. In response to this Jacob said, “Why did you treat me so badly by telling the man whether you still had another brother?” (43:3-6) Even after some time has passed, Jacob still isn't willing to make the hard decision to send Benjamin. So he starts blaming. “I’m a victim! Why did you share personal information about our family? lf you had been more careful this wouldn’t be happening to me!” Isn’t this true to human nature? When we're boxed in by circumstances, it is easy to blame others instead of accepting responsibility for our own failures. Yet, God calls us to sense His sovereign hand in the circumstances of our lives.

  5. Verses 7-9. All of a sudden the brothers speak up together: “The man [Joseph] questioned particularly about us and our relatives. The information the brothers gave to Joseph was in response to his direct questioning. By complaining to his sons, Jacob was rebuking them for telling the truth. Again, Jacob is living up to his nickname of “deceiver.” Fortunately, Judah steps up and lovingly puts him in his place. This is the first good thing we find Judah doing in Genesis so far. Up until now, he was like his father, completely self-centered and self-absorbed. It was Judah who proposed the sale of Joseph to the Midianites (37:26-27). It was Judah who had separated himself from his family to live with the Canaanites (38:1a). It was Judah who hung around with an ungodly man named Hirah (38:1b). It was Judah who married an unbeliever (38:2). It was Judah who was not a spiritual leader and lost two of his sons in death (38:7, 10). It was Judah who was sexually immoral and slept with a supposed prostitute (38:15-18). Now Judah is realizing that only doing right will work. He has no other choices, but to do right or they will starve. Sometimes God limits our choices so we can do right.

  6. Verse 10. Judah makes the statement that if they had not delayed they would have been able to go back and forth to Egypt twice by now. This gives you a sense that Jacob didn't act until he had run out of options. Isn’t that funny how we often have to admit, that if we would have just acted earlier we could have saved a bunch of time and anxiety.

  7. Verses 11-14. Jacob's back is to the wall, so he reluctantly agrees to let Benjamin go. The words and actions of Jacob in this section do not sound like words of faith and confidence in God. Nonetheless, he agrees to this risky “double your money back” plan. Jacob tells his sons to bring gifts for “the man” that told them to come back with their brother. You may recall that he employed the same tactics when he was preparing to meet his brother, Esau (33:10-16). But Jacob's gift giving wasn't motivated by love or friendship. For Jacob it was simply a tool of diplomacy intended to soften the heart of the Egyptian leader. There is irony here. The gift was of the same produce that the original caravan bore that took Joseph to Egypt, including the silver! While Jacob offers a prayer or blessing, it is more like a last resort when it should have been his first line of defense. Prayer and dependence on God should always be our first response to trouble and uncertainty in life. But it doesn't come naturally! It is a learned behavior that becomes a lifestyle by virtue of habitual practice. Jacob had much to learn and so do most believers.

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