Year 2 Day 292
Read - Genesis 43
Message - Scott Woodburn
Joseph had told his brothers that if they were to return to Egypt then they needed to bring their brother Benjamin with them. Despite a severe famine and the urging of Reuben, the family hadn’t immediately started back to Joseph (v10). Eventually the food they had brought back from Egypt ran out and Israel told his sons to go and get some more (v2). Judah reminded his father that such a journey would require Benjamin’s presence (v5).
Israel took some persuading but Judah promised that he would do all he could to keep Benajmin safe. Finally Israel relented and instructed his sons to take a gift to the mysterious Egyptian including the money that had been placed in his son’s sacks (v11-12). Israel prayed that the Lord would grant his sons mercy and eventually bring all his sons back to him (v14).
As Israel’s sons arrived in Egypt they found themselves invited to a feast at Joseph’s house (v16-17). They wondered if the invitation would be used to punish them - perhaps Joseph believed that they had stolen the money and would attack them at the feast (v18)? So in a display of honesty and integrity the brothers explained the situation to Joseph’s steward. They had no idea who had placed the money in their sacks and had returned with it in full (v20-22). The steward told them the money was a gift from God - they had nothing to fear (v23).
Soon the brothers were reunited with Simeon and in a sign of respect they prepared the gift that they had brought for Joseph, bowing before him as he entered. Joseph asked after the welfare of his father and must have been overjoyed to hear that his dad was alive and well (v27-28). But soon Joseph would finally set eyes upon his youngest brother Benjamin. He was so overcome at the sight of his mother’s baby boy that he went to his chamber and wept privately (v30). Later as the feast began, Joseph ensured that Benjamin’s portion was five times larger than his brothers (v34).
What’s going on in this chapter? Joseph continues to prod his brothers. Israel loves Benjamin and it takes a long time before he agrees to let him travel to Egypt. Benjamin is the baby boy and to this day that often remains a favoured spot. Joseph is moved with compassion for his little brother and deliberately gives him five times more than his brothers. How will they respond? In years gone by Joseph’s brothers had been filled with jealousy towards him that had seen him almost murdered and then sold. Were they still a jealous bunch? Would Joseph’s favourable treatment of Benjamin cause his brothers to hate their little brother? We are told that Israel’s once jealous sons now responded with maturity. Benjamin may have been served more but his brothers rejoiced with him regardless (v34b).
In this chapter we see the fruit of contrition and repentance. The brothers keep their word in returning to Egypt. They go out of their way to explain the situation with the money and when their little brother is treated like a king they display no jealousy but instead drink and make merry with him. The Lord has been sanctifying these men. Their hands were not clean but the Lord had moved them to deal with their treatment of Joseph. They now act with integrity, honesty and maturity, thanks be to God.
Before I leave my pulpit I read two things. One comes from John 3v30 “Christ must increase, I must decrease.” The other is a quote from George Whitefield “Let my name die everywhere, let all my friends forget if by that means the cause of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ be promoted.” They are little reminders that the world doesn’t revolve around me and church is certainly not there to entertain or glorify Scott Woodburn.
Joseph’s brothers seemed to growing up and as I begin this new year as a balding, middle aged man I want the same. Perhaps you’ll pray with me? Father God, forgive me my sins and grow me up in the faith. Produce in me fruit in keeping with repentance. Sanctify me by your word, your word is truth! May Christ increase and I decrease. For Christ’s sake. Amen.
Q53 Which is the third commandment? The third commandment is, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.