Saturday, January 23, 2021

2021.01.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 44

Read Genesis 44

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Joseph tell the steward to do in Genesis 44:1–2? Where, specifically, does he say to place the cup and each man’s money? When do the men leave, with what (Genesis 44:3)? What does Joseph tell the steward to do/say in Genesis 44:4–5? How do the brothers respond and with what logic (Genesis 44:6–8)? What two-pronged solution do they propose (Genesis 44:9)? How does the steward modify the proposal in Genesis 44:10? How does the search go, and with what result (Genesis 44:11-12)? How do the men respond, and how many go back, and with what (Genesis 44:13)? How are the men described in Genesis 44:14? What do they do? What does Joseph say to them (Genesis 44:15)? Who answers (Genesis 44:16)? What is his explanation for what has happened? How is his proposal different from Genesis 44:10? But upon what does Joseph insist (Genesis 44:17)? Where does Judah go in Genesis 44:18? For what does he ask? Of what does he remind Joseph in Genesis 44:19-23? What details does he fill in for Joseph in Genesis 44:24-29? What does he say will happen if Benjamin does not return (Genesis 44:30-31)? How does Judah support His request for substitution in Genesis 44:32? What substitution does he request (Genesis 44:33)? For whose sake (Genesis 44:34)?

Judah has gone through a remarkable transformation. We’ve known him as the brother who came up with the method for profiting off of Joseph’s supposedly inevitable death. We’ve known him as the Canaanite-marrying, lying and adulterous father-in-law. But we see that grace has done a marvelous work.

God uses Joseph to set us up for this, as the reigning vizier of Egypt tightens the noose… of each man’s sack around the money that has been carefully placed on top this time (Genesis 44:1-5). When the pressure is applied, the brothers make a foolish offer (Genesis 44:6-9), unwittingly proposing the execution of Benjamin! Joseph’s steward mercifully counters their one execution and ten slaves proposal with an offer of just one slave and no executions (Genesis 44:10). But, the proposal doesn’t turn out to be much better to them because the one turns out to be—alas!—Benjamin (Genesis 44:11-12).

So, it’s a torn-tunic trip back to the city for all of them (Genesis 44:13). But Genesis 44:14 gives an ever-so-subtle hint at what we are about to see when it refers to the eleven of them as “Judah and his brothers.” He’s the fourth born, but the Scripture is already implying that he has become the leader. What kind of leader is he?

He speaks with theological and spiritual honesty. “God has found out the iniquity of your servants” (Genesis 44:16).

He refuses to leave Benjamin back by himself. With the steward having let them off the hook, one might wonder whether the other eight whose slavery Judah volunteers in verse 16 were so voluntary about it as he. Joseph immediately highlights this discrepancy (Genesis 44:17).

He is bold to risk himself by attempting a private audience with Joseph (Genesis 44:18). 

He places not just Benjamin’s wellbeing ahead of his own, but especially his father’s (Genesis 44:19-31Genesis 44:34)—the same father who had basically told them that they were worthless to him, in their departing conversation.

He volunteers to be the substitute and pay the penalty (Genesis 44:33). And he does this in an attempt to keep a previously promised (to Jacob) commitment to do that very thing (Genesis 44:32).

This combination of spiritual honesty, sympathy, selflessness, self-sacrifice, courage, and honor did not come from Judah in himself. We know what he was like. Rather, they came by grace. They came from the One Who had committed Himself from all eternity to be our Substitute and Sacrifice. And Who became a Man, from the line of Judah, in order to do just that! 

And that means that everyone who believes in Jesus receives not only the forgiving grace of His substitutionary sacrifice, but also the same transforming grace that we see at work in Judah here. Look to Him for that grace!

In what ways do you hope that Jesus will transform you? How can you be sure that He will?

Suggested songs: ARP51AB “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

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