To read the last post on Genesis click on Starving But Afraid to Return: Genesis 43.
Read Genesis 44
In our last post we left Joseph’s brothers feasting and drinking freely with Joseph. After the end of chapter 43, one might think the brothers are out of the woods, so to speak. But look what happens next.
Before the brothers leave for home, Joseph gives the steward of his house these instructions: Fill up their sacks with all the food they can carry, and put their silver in their sacks. Also, put my silver cup in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver and grain.
So the steward does as Joseph instructed.
Morning comes and the men are sent on their way. They aren’t very far along on their journey when Joseph says to his steward, Go after them, and when you catch them, say, Why have you repaid good with evil? You have the cup my master drinks from and uses for divination. This is a wicked thing you’ve done.
So when the steward catches up with them he says what he was ordered to say. And they answer, Why are you saying these things? We would never do anything like that! We brought back the silver we had from last time. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master now? Tell you what, if you find the cup on any one of us, that person will die; and the rest of us will become your master’s slaves.
All right then, the steward says, It’ll be how you want it. Whoever has it will become my slave, the rest will be free from blame.
They all toss their sacks to the ground and open them up. Then the steward searches them, beginning with the oldest and working his way to the youngest. And there it is, the cup, in Benjamins sack. Right away they despair and tear their clothes. Then they load up their donkeys and head back to Joseph’s house in the city.
Joseph is still there when Judah and his brothers come in, and they throw themselves to the ground in front of Joseph. Joseph says, What have you done? Don’t you realize a man like me can find out what’s happened by divination?
What can we say? Judah responds. What can we say? What could we do to prove our innocence? God has exposed your servants’ guilt. We’re now your slaves — we ourselves and the one who had the cup.
But Joseph says, Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the one who had the cup will become my slave. The rest can go back to your father in peace.
Then Judah goes up to him and says, Please excuse your servant, my lord, please allow me to have a word with my lord. Don’t be angry with your servant, even though you’re equal to Pharaoh himself. My lord asked his servants, Do you have a father or a brother? And we told you, We have an elderly father, and there’s a young boy born to him in his old age. His brother’s dead, and he’s the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.
Then you said to us, your servants, Bring him down here to me so I can see him for myself. And we said to my lord, The youngest son can’t leave his father, if he leaves, his father will die. But you told us, your servants, Unless you bring him back, you won’t see me again. When we went back to your servant, my father, we told him everything you said.
Then our father said, Go back to Egypt and buy some more food. But we told him, We can’t go unless our youngest brother goes with us. We can’t see the man’s face unless we bring Benjamin.
Your servant, my father, said, You know my wife had two sons. One of them went away and never came back, I said, He has surely been torn to pieces. And I haven’t seen him since. If you take Benjamin, and harm comes to him, I’ll die from grief.
So at this point, if the youngest isn’t with us when we go back, and my father, whose life is closely bound up with the his, sees he isn’t with us, my father will die. Your servants will bring him down to the grave in grief and sorrow. I myself guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father.
So please, let me remain here as your slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return to his brothers. How can I go back to my father if he’s not with me? No! Don’t let me see the misery that would come upon my father.
What Does He Want?
Imagine with me what Judah and his brother’s must be saying to each other at this point: What, what, what? What does Joseph want? Why is this happening? When will it stop? We gave Joseph our silver to buy food. We left Simeon as a prisoner. We went home, we came back, we brought Benjamin as requested. We brought gifts, almonds, honey, the best the land has to offer. We bowed before Joseph — four times so far! But no, none of that is what Joseph wants. So what then? What? What is it?
What does Joseph want from us?
Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever asked those questions? Maybe like Judah and his brothers, you’re asking yourself those questions now: “Why is this happening to me? When will it stop? What does God want? What does Jesus want from me?”
The answer for Judah and his brothers concerning what Joseph wanted was this: Joseph wanted the brothers themselves. He wanted the brothers to give themselves to him. At the end of our text we see Judah offer himself to Joseph. And we’ll see in chapter 45, it’s not until Judah finally offers himself to Joseph, that Joseph reveals himself to Judah, and the rest of the brothers.
The answer for you is the same. It’s the same with your greater than Joseph, Jesus. He doesn’t crave your money. He doesn’t need your worship. He doesn’t want to imprison anybody. He doesn’t need your gifts. He doesn’t need your sacrifices. What does He want?
He wants you…
…to give yourself…
All of you. Everything. Everything you are.
He wants your life.
The moment you make that commitment, the moment you flip that switch in your head and your heart, to give all of yourself to Him — as Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, Jesus will begin to reveal Himself to you.
So do it! What reason is there not to? You only have blessings awaiting you on the other side of that commitment. So what are you waiting for? Flip that switch. Pray to Him right now. Give yourself, all of yourself, to Him
Do it, and like Judah and his brothers — your life will never be the same.
[Image via Fenway71 – Creative Commons]
Joseph’s brothers bowed down to him, fulfilling Joseph’s prophetic dream, a total of five times:
- Genesis 42:6: Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground
- Genesis 43:26: When Joseph came home, they presented to him the gifts they had brought into the house, and they bowed down before him to the ground.
- Genesis 43:28: They replied, “Your servant our father is still alive and well.” And they bowed down, prostrating themselves before him.
- Genesis 44:14: Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him.
- Genesis 50:18: His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.