If we are believers and followers of God and His ways, asking for His help, we begin to grow and mature on life’s journey. We see ourselves begin to change the way we think, act, react and respond to circumstance and to others. We become wise by asking God for wisdom. Wisdom is defined as becoming more skillful at living life in ways that help not harm us and those around us. When God is leading us, a turnaround happens in our thinking and behaving.
When God abides in us and we in Him; our hearts change. We will make mistakes but our imperfections are forgiven and lessons are taught that help us the next time a temptation appears or a life circumstance becomes challenging. God grows and matures us daily. He is the potter; we are the clay. He consistently reshapes and remolds until beauty comes from the all the imperfections. He pinches off what doesn’t belong and adds what will make us stronger. Yes, we might be cracked pots, but when God enters our being and begins working on us; we become His masterpieces—His work of art, leaving His imprint on our hearts, minds and souls.
This work is possible because of Jesus who saved us from our sins, bringing us into God’s Kingdom. Turnaround lives are God’s specialty brought about by His love, mercy and grace.
The story of God in Joseph and His brothers is coming to a climax. We cannot miss what God has been doing in the lives of Joseph’s once cruel brothers. The brothers have grown a great respect for their father, Jacob (Israel). Where love seemed absolutely absent, love now drives them to save the youngest brother, favored by their father. This was NOT the attitude of the ten brothers’ minds and hearts when Joseph lived among them!
Look what God is doing in and through Joseph. Joseph had a worldly “right” to repay evil for evil to his brothers but he did not. God’s wisdom filled Joseph to do what was right in God’s thinking—to forgive.
We will find that God has been working on Joseph and his family all along…God is and always will be in control as He fulfills His promises to us.
Genesis 44, The Message
1-2 Joseph ordered his house steward: “Fill the men’s bags with food—all they can carry—and replace each one’s money at the top of the bag. Then put my chalice, my silver chalice, in the top of the bag of the youngest, along with the money for his food.” He did as Joseph ordered.
3-5 At break of day the men were sent off with their donkeys. They were barely out of the city when Joseph said to his house steward, “Run after them. When you catch up with them, say, ‘Why did you pay me back evil for good? This is the chalice my master drinks from; he also uses it for divination. This is outrageous!’”
6 He caught up with them and repeated all this word for word.
7-9 They said, “What is my master talking about? We would never do anything like that! Why, the money we found in our bags earlier, we brought back all the way from Canaan—do you think we’d turn right around and steal it back from your master? If that chalice is found on any of us, he’ll die; and the rest of us will be your master’s slaves.”
10 The steward said, “Very well then, but we won’t go that far. Whoever is found with the chalice will be my slave; the rest of you can go free.”
11-12 They outdid each other in putting their bags on the ground and opening them up for inspection. The steward searched their bags, going from oldest to youngest. The chalice showed up in Benjamin’s bag.
13 They ripped their clothes in despair, loaded up their donkeys, and went back to the city.
14 Joseph was still at home when Judah and his brothers got back. They threw themselves down on the ground in front of him.
15 Joseph accused them: “How can you have done this? You have to know that a man in my position would have discovered this.”
16 Judah as spokesman for the brothers said, “What can we say, master? What is there to say? How can we prove our innocence? God is behind this, exposing how bad we are. We stand guilty before you and ready to be your slaves—we’re all in this together, the rest of us as guilty as the one with the chalice.”
17 “I’d never do that to you,” said Joseph. “Only the one involved with the chalice will be my slave. The rest of you are free to go back to your father.”
18-20 Judah came forward. He said, “Please, master; can I say just one thing to you? Don’t get angry. Don’t think I’m presumptuous—you’re the same as Pharaoh as far as I’m concerned. You, master, asked us, ‘Do you have a father and a brother?’ And we answered honestly, ‘We have a father who is old and a younger brother who was born to him in his old age. His brother is dead and he is the only son left from that mother. And his father loves him more than anything.’
21-22 “Then you told us, ‘Bring him down here so I can see him.’ We told you, master, that it was impossible: ‘The boy can’t leave his father; if he leaves, his father will die.’
23 “And then you said, ‘If your youngest brother doesn’t come with you, you won’t be allowed to see me.’
24-26 “When we returned to our father, we told him everything you said to us. So when our father said, ‘Go back and buy some more food,’ we told him flatly, ‘We can’t. The only way we can go back is if our youngest brother is with us. We aren’t allowed to even see the man if our youngest brother doesn’t come with us.’
27-29 “Your servant, my father, told us, ‘You know very well that my wife gave me two sons. One turned up missing. I concluded that he’d been ripped to pieces. I’ve never seen him since. If you now go and take this one and something bad happens to him, you’ll put my old gray, grieving head in the grave for sure.’
30-32 “And now, can’t you see that if I show up before your servant, my father, without the boy, this son with whom his life is so bound up, the moment he realizes the boy is gone, he’ll die on the spot. He’ll die of grief and we, your servants who are standing here before you, will have killed him. And that’s not all. I got my father to release the boy to show him to you by promising, ‘If I don’t bring him back, I’ll stand condemned before you, Father, all my life.’
33-34 “So let me stay here as your slave, not this boy. Let the boy go back with his brothers. How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? Oh, don’t make me go back and watch my father die in grief!”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
Lies must be brought to the light of day and repented in our turnaround.
For twenty-two years, Joseph’s brothers had carefully covered their sins. They hadn’t told the truth and apparently had reaped no serious consequences. Furthermore, they weren’t afraid of being exposed, because the only person who could witness against them was Joseph, and they were sure he was dead (v. 20). But the truth had to come out, both for their good and the success of God’s plan of salvation for the world.
When the eleven brothers left Joseph’s house, they had every reason to be joyful. They hadn’t been arrested for stealing the grain money, Simeon had been released, Benjamin was safely traveling with them, and they were going home at last.
But their joy was only a mirage. Authentic joy and peace can never be based on lies; they must be founded on truth. To build on lies is to build on the sand and invite certain judgment. Apart from righteousness, there can be no real peace, but only a fragile truce that eventually erupts into war. “The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever” (Is. 32:17). God’s way may be narrower and harder, but it leads to peace.
Judah was now the spokesman for the family. True, it was Judah who suggested they sell Joseph (37:26, 27), and it was Judah who unwittingly committed incest with his daughter-in-law (chapter 38), but by the grace of God, people can change and make new beginnings. We applaud Judah and praise God for Judah’s turnaround thinking!
In his opening words, Judah made it clear that he wouldn’t even try to defend himself and his brothers, for what could he say? It’s when guilty sinners’ mouths are shut and they stop defending themselves that God can show them mercy (Rom. 3:19). The words “God is punishing us for our sins” don’t refer only to the discovery of the grain money or to the silver cup. The statement also refers to their hidden sins, the way they had treated Joseph and their father years before. On their first visit to Egypt, they had expressed this feeling of guilt and had moved Joseph to tears (42:21–24).
It was indeed a new Judah who stood before Joseph, a man whom Joseph knew could be trusted. The time had now come for Joseph to reveal himself to his brothers.
The Big Reveal will come in tomorrow’s passage! Stay tuned! Oh yes, it gets even better!
Today we respond with gratitude for what we know of Jesus. We need to remind ourselves that Jesus Christ is the Surety for those who have trusted Him (Heb. 7:22). He has assumed the responsibility for us to make sure that we will come to the Father (John 14:1–6). Jesus is bringing “many sons to glory” (Heb. 2:10), and He will see to it that each of them arrives safely.
Judah was willing to take Benjamin’s place and separate himself from his father, but Jesus actually took our place and died for us on the cross, crying, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46). He is our Surety and He cannot fail.
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My comforter, my all in all
Here in the love of Christ I stand
(Songwriters: Keith Getty / Stuart Townend)
Thank you for turning me around in my thinking and in my behaving. Keep working on me, in me and through me until I see you face to face. Thank you, Lord!
In Jesus Name, Amen