Saturday, January 02, 2021

2021.01.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 42:8–38

Read Genesis 42:8–38

Questions from the Scripture text: Who recognized whom (Genesis 42:8)? Who did not recognize whom? What did Joseph remember (Genesis 42:9)? Of what did he accuse them? What did they call Joseph (Genesis 42:10)? Themselves? Why did they claim to have come? What do they claim proves them honest and not spies (Genesis 42:11)? How does Joseph answer (Genesis 42:12)? What new data do they add in Genesis 42:13 to the claim in verse 11? How does Joseph answer (Genesis 42:14)? By whose life does he speak in Genesis 42:15Genesis 42:16? How does he propose to test them? How many may leave (verse 16)? What will happen to the rest? How long did Joseph put them there (Genesis 42:17, cf. Genesis 40:12–13, Genesis 40:18–19)? What did Joseph claim about himself in Genesis 42:18? How many does he now propose to keep in prison (Genesis 42:19)? What are the rest to do for whom? Whom are they to bring (Genesis 42:20)? Why? What do they now say about themselves in Genesis 42:21? What had they seen? What did they refuse to do? What do they think this has caused? Who answers them in Genesis 42:22? What does he say that he and they had done? What does he say is now happening to them? What didn’t they know (Genesis 42:23)? How does Joseph respond in Genesis 42:24? Whom does he take? What does he do? Before what? What does Joseph command (Genesis 42:25a)? What unexpected additions does he make (verse 25b)? What do they do in Genesis 42:26? To where do they arrive in Genesis 42:27? What does one of them do? What does he see? Whom does he tell (Genesis 42:28)? What happens to their hearts? What do they ask? To whom do they go in Genesis 42:29? Where? What do they tell him? About Joseph (Genesis 42:30)? About what they said (Genesis 42:31-32)? About what Joseph did and said (Genesis 42:33-34)? Now what do they discover in Genesis 42:35? Who sees it with them? How do they all feel about it? What does Jacob say they have done (Genesis 42:36)? What does he say are against him? What does he refuse? What proposal does Reuben make in Genesis 42:37)? Does Jacob accept the offer (Genesis 42:38)? What does he say about Joseph? What does he say about Benjamin? What does he say might happen to Benjamin, and what does he say this would do to himself? What does this imply about the comparative value of the ten other brothers?

Sometimes the Lord uses situations to bring to our attention our need to repent of something about which we have not lately felt guilty. Joseph seems to know this instinctively. He remembers not just one dream but two (Genesis 42:9), so he fully expects a return visit, and he is obviously trying to provoke them.

In verse 9b, Genesis 42:12Genesis 42:14 he repeats the same accusation as an explanation for the number of similarly dressed/looking/sounding men in front of him. Of course he knows exactly why (Genesis 42:8), and it is the very thing they claim in Genesis 42:11Genesis 42:13

For his part, Joseph has been in prison and knows the effect that it can have in giving a man time to think upon God’s doings in his life and his interaction with God. The three days (Genesis 42:17) call us back to chapter 40, where the dreams of Pharaoh’s servants had led Joseph to believe that this was the precise amount of time left for him there.

And three days (not years and years before, and then two more years after) is all it ends up taking to bring out of them the confession in Genesis 42:21. They feel guiltier now than they have for some 20 years: “we are truly guilty concerning our brother.” There is some sense that they are receiving justice: “therefore this distress has come upon us.”

So Joseph continues to provoke them. Now, he not only reminds/reinforces to them that they are all brothers, and not only gives them time to think about their guiltiness before God, but he also presses to them their undeservingness of all God’s goodness to them. Not only does he return their money to them, in addition to the grain, but he adds extra provisions for the journey for which they had not bargained (Genesis 42:25).

Instructively, the thought that God was ultimately responsible for this was no comfort to them—the opposite, in fact (Genesis 42:28)! When you are aware of your wicked guilt before God, it is no encouragement to think that He is actively engaged in your life! This seems to be a mindset they have picked up from their father, who literally thinks everything is against him (Genesis 42:36). 

It has a harmful formative effect to live with grumbling against God’s providence, and Jacob’s pity party has been going for a full twenty years. One wonders how different “bring down my gray hair with sorrow to the grave” (Genesis 42:38) would be from what they have endured from him for these decades. He basically tells them that they are nothing to Benjamin (“his brother is dead, and he is left alone”), and that they are nothing to him (since if they lived, it would be no comfort to him). He doesn’t even express any interest in retrieving Simeon, who is an acceptable loss if it means not risking Benjamin.

What Joseph has done to the brothers, humanly speaking, God is doing to Jacob: bringing his sin to the surface for us to see it in all its ugliness. We get too accustomed to our sin. Too comfortable with its presence. Too dismissive of its guilt. Too tolerant of its hideousness. It is a mercy when God calls it to our attention—whether through His providence as He often does, or through His Word as He always does. 

This is a family that desperately needs Jesus. In a world that desperately needs Jesus. All the land was coming to Egypt for necessary earthly bread. But it is God’s greatest mercy when He sends all the earth to this family—ugly as it is in this passage—to receive the bread of everlasting life from its special Son the Lord Jesus. Let us be grateful to God when He exposes our need and provokes us to go to Him!

What sins do you easily look over? What are some ways that God’s providence brings your sin to your attention? In what circumstances does His Word bring your sin to your attention? In what way? What do you do about it?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH341 “Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed”

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