In Genesis 42, it tells us of the drought in Egypt. Jacob sent his sons into Egypt to buy corn and they went. Just picture yourselves for a moment in the shoes of those brothers — they didn’t know Joseph now, as they had bowed to him. What was Joseph’s dream? He was binding sheaves and his sheaf stood upright while his brothers’ sheaves bowed themselves to him. In this chapter, these boys took their first step in bowing themselves to Joseph, but did not know it. Now, they had the opportunity of being brought into the presence of someone with the spirit of God — the first sign of bowing in subjection to God, and they didn’t know it. Before long they noticed little changes coming into their lives through chastening.
Joseph said in verse 9, “Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.” They said in verse 11, “We are all one man’s sons; we are true men, thy servants are no spies.” Were they true men? Were they honest? What did they tell their father? This is a terrible picture, a sad, sad story; because they said, “We are true men.” Isn’t that like people of the world who come to listen to God today? Isn’t that what the elder brother of the prodigal son said, “I have never transgressed?”
Verse 21, “And they said one to another, ‘We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.’” It caused them to think back. Do you ever think back over your life and wish you hadn’t spoken like that to someone? These brothers realized God had come for their words. We may be able to cover up things sometimes, but when we stand before our Eternal Father we won’t be able to cover them up. The first part of this story showed Joseph’s brethren as just fleshly men, but now, they started to justify themselves. Reuben tried to say, “I told you so” in verse 22. He even attempted to shelter him, because in his mind he tried to, but he hadn’t put it into action. It takes something to stand up against people — we know what is right, but are we willing to put it into action? Now with his brothers, Reuben is paying the price. Reuben said to his father…but first I had better mention that these boys went back to the father.
The condition was they couldn’t return for corn unless their youngest brother Benjamin came with them. Jacob isn’t in favour of this and Reuben says again, “Slay my two sons if I bring him not to thee.” What profit was there if Reuben had killed his two sons? He wasn’t willing to pay the price himself. Judah said, “Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go; that we may live, and not die, both we, and thou, and also our little ones. I will be surety for him; of my hand, shalt thou require him. If I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever.” Chapter 43:8-9, I was looking at some of the qualities found in those brothers now and the mission went a little further…Judah was willing to bear the blame forever if Benjamin didn’t return with him.
Judah had a wonderful spirit and a wonderful purpose — and he carried out his purpose. It is one thing to expect others to sacrifice, but are we willing to sacrifice? It is wonderful to look at others paying the price, but are we willing to pay the price? Judah said, “I will bear the blame forever.” Are we willing to take this upon our own shoulders? Often it is the matter of interceding on behalf of others. I am so grateful for those who have interceded on my behalf over the years. Isn’t that the quality of God’s children that we on bended knee take the hand of a brother who has fallen and lift him up again?
Then we read of Jacob seeing there was no way out and he gave them a little present and sent them down to Joseph. They returned to Joseph again and another change was made in these men. It isn’t a matter of natural things but we want to give what is in our hearts. It is wonderful when people listen to the Gospel and want to give something. We know what happened when Joseph asked his servant to put that cup into the sack for Benjamin, we know the story, but these men didn’t. Joseph sent his servants out to question them and what did he say? “You go after those men and find out which one has taken this silver cup.” They said, “We haven’t taken it,” but the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. “Then they rent their clothes, and laded every man his ass, and returned to the city (chapter 44:13).” Can we just enter into the feelings of those brothers? They had come down to buy corn for their father, an old man; they had brought things of the family down and were so sure no one would have this silver cup in their bag. How would they feel? How would Benjamin feel? “These brothers of mine are going to cause me to steal this cup.” But those brothers didn’t know a cup had been placed there, and would think, “Here is our little brother and he has gone and gotten us into trouble.” Judah said, “What shall we say unto my lord? What shall we speak? Or how shall we clear ourselves? (Genesis 44:16)” Can we just enter into the feelings of these men? Can we just place our thoughts here for a moment — how could we stand before the God of Heaven and clear ourselves? It was a hopeless situation. He had told his father, “I will bear the blame for ever; I will be surety for him,” but he never expected to be in this situation. When we are serving God, we have it in our hearts that we want to do our best; we want to serve Him, but if we have covered something, or sinned, how can we clear ourselves before our Maker? We are so thankful we have a Redeemer we can pour everything out to. Here is Judah saying, “How can we clear ourselves?”
In chapter 44:34, Judah said, “For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? Lest peradventure, I see the evil that shall come on my father.” In Hebrews 4:14, it says, “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
We can certainly enter into the feelings of those brethren and how they felt, “How can we clear ourselves; how can we go up to our father?” How can we clear ourselves of our past, of our sin? There is only one way, and that is through our Redeemer. How can we go up to our heavenly Father? We think of those who brought the gospel to us and the debt we owe them, God’s lovely children, this fellowship we can have a part in — how can we go up to our Father; we don’t deserve it. We just come to our Father in all humility, just like those brethren. They felt undone, but when Joseph made himself known to them, what did he say? “Come near to me, I pray you.” And they came near. And he said, “I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither, for God did send me before you to preserve life.” Joseph just brought them together and it tells us he kissed them all, the ones who sold him to those Midianities — he kissed them all. If we could just come to Jesus as those brothers did to Joseph…
I hope these few thoughts will help us to value our Redeemer more and more.