Starving but Afraid to Return: Genesis Chapter 43

Photo by What What, Creative Commons

Read Genesis Chapter 43

To see the last post on Genesis click on: Everything is Against Me!

 

Genesis Chapter 43:

So time passes and the famine is still brutal in Canaan. All the grain they brought back from Egypt is gone. Jacob says to his sons, Go back and buy us some more food.

But Judah says, The man warned us, he said, You won’t see me again without your little brother. So if you’ll send Benjamin with us, we’ll go. But if you won’t, we can’t go, because the man in Egypt said, You won’t see me unless you bring your brother.

Israel asks, Why’d you bring this down on me, by telling the man you had a little brother?

They answered, He questioned us closely about us and our family. Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother? We just answered him. How could we know he’d say, Bring your brother down here?

Then Judah says to Israel his father, Send the boy with me and we’ll leave right away, so we and you and our kids can live and not die from the famine. I guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I don’t bring him back, I’ll bear the blame all my life. If we hadn’t waited, we could have been there and back twice by now.

Then their father Israel says, If this is how it has to be then do this: Pack up some of the best we have and take them to the man as a gift — some balm, and honey, and spices, and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds. And take twice the amount of silver with you, because you have to return the silver that was put back into your sacks. Maybe it was a mistake. Take your brother too, and go back to the man at once. And may God Almighty grant you mercy before the man so he’ll allow your other brother and Benjamin to come back with you. As for me, if I’m bereaved, I’m bereaved.

So they gather up the gifts and double the amount of silver, and their brother Benjamin. They hurry to Egypt and present themselves to Joseph. When Joseph sees Benjamin with his brothers, he tells his steward, Take these men to my house, slaughter an animal and prepare a meal for us; they’ll eat with me at noon.

The man does as Joseph tells him and takes them to Joseph’s house. Now his brothers were frightened when they were taken to his house. They thought to themselves, We were taken here because of the silver that was put back into our sacks the first time. He wants to overpower us and take us as slaves and take our donkeys.

So they approach Joseph’s steward and speak with him at the entrance to the house. Excuse us lord, they say, when we came down here the first time to buy food, on our way home we stopped for the night, opened our sacks, and each of us found his silver — the precise amount — in the mouth of his sack. So we brought it back with us this time. We also brought additional silver to buy food. We don’t know who put the silver in our sacks.

It’s OK, the steward says. Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, gave you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver. Then he brought Simeon out to them.

The steward took them into Joseph’s house, he gave them water to wash their feet, and he provided food for their donkeys. The brothers prepared their gifts for when Joseph would arrive at noon, because they heard they would be eating there.

So Joseph comes out, they present their gifts to him, and they bow down to him to the ground. He asks them how they’re doing, and he asks, How’s your aged father you told me about? Is he still alive?

They answer, Yes, he’s alive and well. And they bowed down, prostrating themselves before him.

As Joseph looks around he see his brother Benjamin, his own mother’s son. He asks, Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about? And he says, God be gracious to you, my son. Joseph is overcome with emotion at the sight of his brother so he hurries out and looks for a place to weep. He goes into his private room and he weeps there.

This is the first of two occasions when Joseph weeps over his brothers. Jesus also wept for the descendants of Joseph’s brothers, the Jews, on two occasions: once at the tomb of His friend Lazarus, and once over His people in the City of Jerusalem. (John 11:35, Luke 19:41)

After he collects himself, he washes his face and comes back out. Then he gives the order, Serve the food.

They serve him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians eating with them by themselves, because Egyptians couldn’t eat with Hebrews, it was detestable to them. The brothers are seated in order of their ages, from oldest to youngest, and they look at each other in amazement. The portions are dished out, and Benjamin’s is five times as much as anyone else’s. So they feast, and drink freely with Joseph.

 

Returning to Our Joseph:

So Jacob and his family are hanging around, subsisting on the food they had from their first trip. Of course the inevitable happens and they run out, but Jacob and his sons are afraid to go back to Joseph. Jacob thinks it’ll cost him something, something dear to him — Benjamin.

That’s how it is with many of you. You’ve been to your Joseph, who is Jesus. You’ve received from Him the bread of life and the way of salvation. And you’ve been hanging out all this time subsisting on what you received from Him previously. The only thing is, as it was with Jacob, what you received from before doesn’t last forever. Oh, your salvation does, of course. But you, and I, all of us, need to go to Jesus for nourishment, regularly. Not doing so is the same as if you stopped eating. You’ll become spiritually lean. You’ll lose strength — the strength of your relationship with Jesus will weaken. Your soul needs to receive from Jesus in His house, even as Joseph’s brothers received from Joseph in his house.

What’s striking is how we’re just like Jacob, we’re afraid of what it will cost. There’s those things you’re hanging onto that you think you’ll lose if you return to your Joseph, who is Jesus: sleep on Sunday morning, or time with friends, or ESPN time, or time on the internet, or time devoted to your thing. There’s those things I’m clinging to, that I think I’ll lose if I draw closer in my relationship with Jesus: success at work, or time to exercise, or time to recreate. The fear of losing Benjamin kept Jacob from moving in a direction toward Joseph. Your fear of losing your thing keeps you from moving in a direction closer to Jesus.

But in reality, the best thing possible for Jacob was for he and his family to return to Joseph. And the best thing possible for you and your family, and for me and mine is to return to Jesus. As it was with Jacob, what you’re afraid of losing is a false perception.

After Jacob returned to Joseph, imagine how badly he must have wished he had done so sooner. All those wasted years without his son Joseph, and without the provision and multiplied blessings that came when Jacob and his family came together with him in Egypt. Instead of losing another son, he gained back two. And he was blessed beyond anything that would have happened had he stayed away.

So return to Him.

You’re only losing if you stay away.

You’ll be gaining great blessings if you return.

After you come back, like Jacob, you’ll wish you had done so sooner.

Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

Jesus Christ, John 6:27

References:

Bible Gateway

Blue Letter Bible

Jon Courson

 

Five Ways To Be A Better Character In Your Story – Prodigal Magazine

Hi, I’m on vacation, hiking in North Cascades National Park with family. So you’ll see a few posts with links to people who write better than I do, until Saturday, July 28. I thoroughly enjoyed this one from Prodigal Magazine…

Outstanding article about how your life tells a story, and what you can do to tell the best story possible. This is an outstanding read:

Five Ways To Be A Better Character In Your Story – Prodigal Magazine.

Drawing Close to God

Close to God James 4:8

Image by Jonathan Kos-Read – Creative Commons.

Every person on the planet is precisely as close to God as he or she wants to be. Have you ever thought about that?

James 4:8 says if you draw near to God, He will draw near to you.

That truth compels you, and I, and every one of us to ask ourselves,

“What am I doing to draw near to God?”

He’s waiting for you, you know. He’s watching. He’s watching for when you begin to move toward Him. While you’re still a long way off, He’ll see you, and be filled with compassion for you; He’ll run to you, and throw His arms around you. (Luke 15:11-32)

Get up and go to Him.

Genesis 1:2 — Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Genesis 1:2

What God does with formless and empty? Consider what he did in King David’s case. God knew that He would raise up a great King over Israel — the greatest government administration in the history of the world. He also knew that the great King would be a son of David’s. Who do you suppose God would choose as the new King’s mother?

How about Micah? She was of royal blood, the daughter of King Saul. Nope, not Micah. Neither did God choose any of David’s three other wives. Rather He chose Bathsheba, David’s fifth wife. Her child, Solomon, was the fruit of no noble, honorable, or holy intent. David saw Bathsheba bathing on the roof, had her brought into his castle, and committed adultery.

Then, after David learned that she was pregnant, he murdered her husband to cover it up.

Yet out of this chaos God raised up Solomon, the son of David and Bathsheba. The greatest government administrator who ever lived. (for more see Mark Gungor’s DVD, How to Stay Married and Not Kill Anybody)

Are you experiencing chaos in your life? A broken marriage? A son or daughter gone astray? A layoff from work? The loss of a house to the bank?

Take heart. The same Spirit of God that took the formless and empty earth and heavens and created from them the majestic earth and heavens that we see today, the earth and heavens that are so spectacular, so beautiful, so magnificent that it’s impossible not to see God’s hand in them. That same Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, specializes in creating wonderful fruit from difficult or even seemingly impossible situations.

God loves you. God is for you. It may not be easy, but God will help you.

Cast your burden upon him. He is the answer. In the words of Matthew Henry, “Dead matter would be for ever dead if He did not quicken it.” Dead marriages, dead relationships, dead careers, dead bank accounts, ask — God will help. He is for you.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,”

Jeremiah 29:11-14