44:9 "If you find his cup with any one of us, let that man die. And all the rest of us, my lord, will be your slaves." This verse may have deeper symbolic implications. I have done a quick study of "cups" in the Bible and basically, anyone who rejects God through unbelief is subject to His cup of wrath (anger). "Anyone who worships the beast and his statue or who accepts his mark on the forehead or the hand must drink the wine of God's wrath. It is poured out undiluted into God's cup of wrath (Revelation 14:9-10)." Through all of time, everyone who rejects God is guilty of worshiping the beast and bears his mark on their forehead. But Jesus came as a Savior to take that cup of wrath in our place. Remember on the night of His crucifixion, He said, "If it is your will, take this cup from me." The cup He was talking about was the cup of God's wrath. He drank it for us, so that we could exchange it for God's cup of mercy through our belief in Him.
Compare to this story, where the disobedient brothers who rejected Joseph aren't aware that they carry Joseph's cup, but it is obviously a cup of judgment against them, as they testified themselves, "let that one [who holds the cup] die and we'll be your slaves forever." Joseph could throw them all into prison and kill the guilty party, but instead, he becomes the channel of their forgiveness. Even though they didn't steal the cup, the cup they now held in their hands was symbolic of the judgment against them for rejecting Joseph. But instead of punishing them as they deserved, Joseph reveals himself to them in mercy and pardons them from their sin. We see the exchange of what they did deserve for the mercy they didn't deserve, and fellowship is restored.
44:30 And now, my lord, I cannot go back to my father without the boy. Our father's life is bound up in the boy's life. The Hebrew word for "bound" also indicates being "tied together." See "personal reflection" for more application on this verse.
44:30 "So please, my lord, let me stay here as a slave instead of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers." Judah is speaking here, and it was Judah who sold Joseph. Judah has acknowledged his sin several times to his brothers in recent days, and here, Judah repents through this act of selflessness. He is willing to "pay" for his sin by taking responsibility for Benjamin's safe return. It is here that Joseph sees that his brother's heart has changed, and he is ready to reveal himself.
45:5-8 You never know how the hard things God asks you to go through are going to be used for the good of many later. Don't doubt God in the hard times. Trust, and be patient. Joseph would not have been ready for this great privilege and responsibility of making His-story without two things: hardships and brokenness. How can we expect any less?
45:17-18 This is how the Israelites got to Egypt, and in the coming days we get to read about how they are led out of Egypt by Moses-another fascinating story with incredible modern-day application. It was truly a miracle that God led Jacob's family to Egypt to be protected through the famine, since Egyptians despise Hebrews. Not only that, they were assigned "the best of the land!"
14:15-16 That evening the disciples came to him and said, "This is a desolate place, and it's getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves." But Jesus said, "That isn't necessary-you feed them." Put yourself into this equation. Jesus is saying the same thing to you and me today: This world IS a desolate place, and it is getting late. People do not know where to find the Bread of Life. Jesus says, "You feed them." And we complain that we don't have enough "food" to feed all of them, but Jesus takes what we do have, and He multiplies it--our time, our money, our knowledge of His Word-and He says, "Now use it for building the Kingdom. I gave you the resources, use it for my people." Also realize, Jesus wants us to be ready and able to feed people spiritually, not depending on someone else to do it.
We can certainly make an argument for our responsibility to feed stomachs as well. Jesus met both needs--the physical hunger, and the spiritual hunger. So many people, including Christians, look around the world today and say, "Lord, why aren't you feeding the hungry and taking care of the sick? There are so many." The Lord says back to us, "You are my hands and feet. I have given you the resources, why aren't you feeding the hungry and taking care of the sick?" And we find we are in danger of becoming the unfaithful servant in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). I have heard it said that if every Christian American home gave a dollar a day for missions instead of fancy church buildings, that world hunger could be practically eradicated. Missions/humanitarian work is less than 2% of the average church budget, while more than 30% goes into building funds. Did Jesus send us to build temples (people) or to build fancy church buildings?
14:19-20 Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. Remember that in communion, the bread is Jesus who was broken for us. Here is another rehearsal of communion when Jesus is revealing that His brokenness and resulting salvation is enough to go around with plenty left over, and His presence (communion) through covenant relationship with us is satisfying and life sustaining.
14:29-30 So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. We are quick to be critical of Peter, but which one of the twelve was out of the boat, walking on water? I would much rather risk sinking and be out there with Jesus than stuck in the boat. Sinking into a sea after walking around on top of it for a few minutes is better than sitting in a boat, watching and wondering what it must have been like.
14:31 "You have so little faith, ______________" Jesus said. "Why did you doubt me?" Personalize this. Put your name on the blank. When the waves of life crash into shore and the seas roar, why do we doubt the One who made the seas? I love Jeremiah 5:22, "The waves may toss and roar, but they can never pass the bounds I set."
Read this passage through the lenses of your "enemies" being lies you believe, habit sins that constantly hound you, or even temptations. God wants us to be proactive with our spiritual enemies, not defensive victims waiting around for the next attack.
Questions for personal reflection:
Have you stopped to ponder that the Heavenly Father's life is bound up in yours? He would never have made a way for you to come back to Him unless it was true. He would never have sacrificed His own Son if He could bear the thought of living without you for eternity. Relish in that thought today.
Do you doubt God in the hard times? Why do believers imagine that life should be easy or trouble free? What if your hard times are the birth of something great God is doing to save many lives? Every world-changer I can think of endured some of the worst of circumstances on the way (Joseph included). Some call them "Red Sea Moments (coming soon)." Try to think of your impossible circumstances as potential world-changing events-even if only the world around you.
Are you investing in The Great Commission or world missions? It is probably one of the most important investments of your money in our times. I believe we will be held accountable for this important spiritual discipline. If you want an amazing short book that will get you way inspired in giving, read "The Treasure Principle," by Randy Alcorn. I promise your perspective on giving will be dramatically changed!
Bonus Offer TODAY ONLY: If you commit to read it by the end of February, I'll send you a free copy of The Treasure Principle (it's a really short book). Email me by midnight today (while supplies last). To email me, visit my website.