Genesis 42:25-38

25 Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put each man’s silver back in his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey.  After this was done for them, 26 they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left.

27 At the place where they stopped for the night one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey, and he saw his silver in the mouth of his sack. 28 “My silver has been returned,” he said to his brothers. “Here it is in my sack.”

Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, “What is this that God has done to us?”

29 When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them. They said, 30 “The man who is lord over the land spoke harshly to us and treated us as though we were spying on the land. 31 But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies. 32 We were twelve brothers, sons of one father. One is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in Canaan.’

33 “Then the man who is lord over the land said to us, ‘This is how I will know whether you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take food for your starving households and go. 34 But bring your youngest brother to me so I will know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you, and you can trade in the land.’”

35 As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man’s sack was his pouch of silver! When they and their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened. 36 Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!”

37 Then Reuben said to his father, “You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back.”

38 But Jacob said, “My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow.”
(Genesis 42:25-38 NIV)

My apologies – I somehow skipped this passage last time, and jumped right to Chapter 43!

In the first part of Chapter 42, Joseph recognizes his brothers when they arrive in Egypt to buy grain.  Joseph does not reveal his identity to them, but instead treats them as strangers and questions their motives for being in Egypt by accusing them of being spies.

Joseph inquires about the brothers’ family, and quickly learns that his father is still alive, as well as his younger full blood brother Benjamin.  Joseph devises a plan to make the brothers bring his brother Benjamin to Egypt so he can see him again.  Joseph holds Simeon as hostage until the other brothers bring Benjamin to Egypt.

In today’s passage, Joseph approves the sale of grain to the brothers, gives them provisions for their trip, then sends them on their way.  In his desire to bless his brothers, he has secretly returned each brother’s money in the top of their grain sacks.

One of the brothers discovers the money in his sack when they stop overnight on their way home.  The brothers automatically blame God for their predicament, and wonder what could have brought on this judgment from the Almighty.

The brothers arrive at home and tell all the details to Jacob, their father.  Jacob listens as the brothers recount their stories.  Everything is apparently fine until the brothers pour out the grain in their sacks, and discover that every man’s sack contains their money.

At this point, Jacob blames his sons for all his life’s misfortunes.  Jacob’s assumption is that the brothers will be known as thieves in Egypt, and that he will never see Simeon again, as the brothers could never show their face in Egypt again because of their bad actions.

Reuben tries to console his father, but his offer is no offer at all in Jacob’s eyes and heart.  To lose two sons (Joseph and Simeon) is bad enough; to lose two grandsons on top of his two lost sons is just as bad or worse.

Jacob also makes it clear that there is no way that he will ever allow Benjamin to go to Egypt under the current conditions.  This is the only surviving son (or so he thinks) of his beloved and departed wife Rachel – he will not sacrifice or put Benjamin at risk in any way, shape, or form.

Jacob ends this section by telling his sons that if he were to trust them and send his son (their brother) Benjamin down to Egypt and something were to happen to Benjamin, that it would be like they were sending their father to a living hell (Sheol).

Joseph’s act of kindness (returning the money for each brother) creates a crisis of faith within the brothers and with his father.  Will they trust God, or will they continue to react in fear?

How do we respond when we are faced with our own crisis of faith?

Do we make unholy agreements based only on what we know and respond out of fear or out of natural response?

Or do we go immediately to our Father in Heaven and ask for His assistance to understand, or how to proceed?

May we turn to our Heavenly Father for wisdom and next steps for all of life’s events.

Blessings,
~kevin

Genesis 43:1-15

43 Now the famine was still severe in the land. So when they had eaten all the grain they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go back and buy us a little more food.”

But Judah said to him, “The man warned us solemnly, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’ If you will send our brother along with us, we will go down and buy food for you. But if you will not send him, we will not go down, because the man said to us, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’”

Israel asked, “Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man you had another brother?”

They replied, “The man questioned us closely about ourselves and our family. ‘Is your father still living?’ he asked us. ‘Do you have another brother?’ We simply answered his questions. How were we to know he would say, ‘Bring your brother down here’?”

Then Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy along with me and we will go at once, so that we and you and our children may live and not die. I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life. 10 As it is, if we had not delayed, we could have gone and returned twice.”

11 Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift—a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds. 12 Take double the amount of silver with you, for you must return the silver that was put back into the mouths of your sacks. Perhaps it was a mistake. 13 Take your brother also and go back to the man at once. 14 And may God Almighty grant you mercy before the man so that he will let your other brother and Benjamin come back with you. As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved.”

15 So the men took the gifts and double the amount of silver, and Benjamin also. They hurried down to Egypt and presented themselves to Joseph.
(Genesis 43:1-15 NIV)

In Chapter 42, Jacob sends his sons (minus Benjamin) to Egypt to buy grain, as the famine was over the entire region, not just Egypt.  Joseph recognized his brothers, but did not disclose his identity to them.  Joseph tested his brothers by accusing them of being spies, and required them to bring their brother Benjamin back with them.  Joseph held Simeon and sent the rest of the brothers home to bring back Benjamin.

Joseph also returned the brothers’ money in the sacks of grain he had sold them.  When they returned home, they told their father Jacob about the strange ordeal.  Jacob refused to even consider letting Benjamin go to Egypt.

As we begin Chapter 43, the famine is still raging, and they have consumed all the grain they purchased before.  Jacob tells his sons to go back down to Egypt and buy more grain.  The brothers remind Jacob that they can’t go back without Benjamin.

Judah steps up and personally takes responsibility for Benjamin’s safety on the journey.  This is a surprise, as Judah was the one that had the idea that they should sell Joseph to the traders passing by.  Judah’s heart had undergone a transformation, from profit-seeker to family-protector.

Jacob ridicules his sons for having told the Egyptian ruler about their family and bringing up the point about Benjamin.  Jacob’s sons remind their father that they were being honest , and had no way of knowing that the ruler (Joseph) would require them to bring Benjamin to Egypt.

Finally, Jacob relents and sends his sons (including Benjamin) to Egypt to buy more grain.  Jacob tells his sons to take double the money – returning the original money plus money to buy more grain.  Jacob also tells his sons to bring some of the good produce of the land with them as gifts to the Egyptian ruler.

As we look at the gift list that Jacob recommended, we see that times were indeed hard.  A little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds were all they had to offer.  It was not the cost of the gift or the quantity of the gift – it was the heart attitude reflected by the giving of the gift.

Notice that Jacob counts the cost of sending Benjamin to Egypt.  He puts his son in God’s hands, and leaves the matter with the Lord.  Jacob offers his blessing on his sons, and prays for God’s mercy when the sons meet with the Egyptian ruler this time, asking the Lord to bring back all his sons, including Simeon and Benjamin.

What (or whom) are we willing to entrust into God’s hands?

What circumstances will it take before we entrust that thing or person to the Lord?

May we release our troubles and trials to the Lord, laying them at the foot of the cross.

Blessings,
~kevin

Happy New Year – 2019

In past years, my practice has been to ask the Lord for a word, theme, or phrase for the new year.  This year is no different in that regard.

As I pondered and prayed this year, three words came to mind:

  • Renovation
  • Renewal
  • Restoration

Seeing these three words, I remembered my grandparents talking about the three “R’s” of education a hundred years ago (phonetic “R’s”, of course) – Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.  While my three “R’s” this year are certainly educational, they are much more than that – they are spiritual, and deeply personal.

Renovation is the key to these three R’s, as it starts with a new design.  Renovation assumes that something is there already, but needs changed.  To begin the renovation, I need to yield to God’s design for me and my life.  Instead of bringing my plans to Him and asking Him to bless them, I need to bring myself to Him and ask Him where He is working and where He would want me to join Him in what He is already doing.

One new thing this year that the Lord has also shown me is to confess and break any unholy alliances that I may have unknowingly made with the enemy of my soul.  These often come in the form of presuppositions, agreements, or assumptions that I may have made about a given situation or the future as I look at the past and into the new year:

  • “This is going to be a tough year at work”
  • “My calendar for the year is already full”
  • “I don’t know how we’re going to make it financially”
  • “I am stuck in this health rut and can’t get out”
  • “I can’t make new friends or find anyone to talk to about life”

I am not proposing a “prosperity theology” solution, to “name it and claim it”.  Rather, I need to turn my presuppositions into opportunities to yield all of my life to Him – to give Him my work, my calendar, my finances, my health, my relationships – and ask Him what He has in mind for me in each and every area of my life.

Finally, I am reminded to ask the Lord for a promise from His Word that I can depend upon, that I can lean on through good times and hard times alike.

For me, this year’s verse is Revelation 21:5:

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”  Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
(Revelation 21:5 ESV)

God has made all things new through Jesus, He is making all things new in me (and you), and He will make all things new when He comes again one day.

That’s a promise you and I can count on we can write it down and depend on it.

What’s the word or phrase the Lord has given you for the new year?

What are the unholy alliances, the assumptions, the agreements with the enemy of your soul that you’ve made and need to confess and give to the Lord?

Have you asked the Lord for a promise from His Word that will carry you through the year?  If so, have you written it down and put it in a place that you will be reminded every day of His goodness and love toward you?

Blessings for your 2019,
~kevin