January 15

Read Genesis 43 -- 45

In Today's Reading:

Jacob's sons return to Egypt for food; Judah offers to take the place of Benjamin; Joseph makes himself known to his brothers.

Because of the great famine, Jacob was forced to send his sons to Egypt to buy food. As the second most powerful ruler of Egypt spoke to them through an interpreter, they were unaware that he was their brother Joseph, whom they had sold into slavery about 20 years earlier.

After questioning them about their family, Joseph had his brothers imprisoned for three days (Genesis 42:17). During their stay in prison, they recalled how their younger brother Joseph had pleaded with them not to sell him as a slave to the Ishmaelite traders on their way to Egypt. Now, in an Egyptian prison, they humbly confessed what a terrible act of cruelty they had committed and said to each other, It is plain that we are being punished for what we did to our brother. We saw his deep distress when he pleaded with us, but we would not listen. That is why this trouble has come to us (42:21). Simeon was then held hostage in Egypt until they brought their youngest brother to Egypt (42:24).

When Joseph's brothers returned home without Simeon, Jacob heard of the ruler's demand to bring his youngest son Benjamin to Egypt before they could buy any more food. He was deeply distressed, and said: My son will not go down with you (42:38). However, as the famine continued, Jacob had no choice but to let Benjamin return with his brothers to Egypt.

Joseph demanded that his brothers come to his home. Imagine their shock when he said, in their Hebrew language: I am Joseph, your brother . . . the one whom you sold into Egypt (45:4). To their amazement, he lovingly added: Don't be . . . angry with yourselves for selling me here, because God sent me ahead of you to preserve life (45:5).

For years, Joseph's brothers had deceived their father and had escaped all accountability for their cruel sin against Joseph. Now they were forced to face their brother. Joseph explained: You sold me; but God sent me. Although God used their wickedness to fulfill His will, this did not lessen their guilt. But, regardless of how cruel someone has been, if you don't forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing (Matthew 6:14-15).

Christ Revealed:

Through Joseph's dealings with his brothers, Christ deals with us in such a way as to bring about our confession of sin and a recognition of His forgiving love, as well as His sovereignty over the affairs of life (Genesis 45:5-8,15; compare Romans 5:8; Ephesians 1:17,20-22).

Prayer Needs:

Country: Macedonia (2 million) in southeastern Europe · Major languages: Macedonian and Albanian · Strongly Orthodox country · 60% Macedonian/Albanian/Bulgarian Orthodox; 30% Muslim; 2% Roman Catholic; .2% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Praise God in prayer and with singing for His Word is pure and His works are done in truth (Psalms 33:2-4).

Optional Reading: Matthew 15

Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 5:4