January 15, 2006

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 to test them, Joseph had his brothers imprisoned for three days (Genesis 42:14-20). During their stay in prison, they recalled how their younger brother Joseph had pleaded with them not to be sold 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 they said one to another, We are verily (truly) guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us (42:21). Simeon was then held hostage in Egypt until their youngest brother Benjamin should be brought to Egypt (42:24).

When Joseph's brothers returned home without Simeon, Jacob heard of the ruler's demand to bring his youngest son to Egypt before they could buy any more food. He was deeply distressed, and said: My son shall not go down with you (42:38). However, as the famine intensified and their food ran low, 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 own Hebrew language: I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt (45:4). To their amazement, he lovingly added: Be not . . . angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before 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 in shame. Joseph explained to them that even though ye sold me . . . God did send me. Although God used their wickedness to fulfill His will, this did not lessen their guilt. Let Joseph be our example for, regardless of how cruel someone has been, if ye forgive . . . not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (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. In a similar way, He reveals His sovereignty over the affairs of life (Genesis 45:5-8,15; compare Romans 5:8; Ephesians 1:17,20-22).

Word Studies:

43:7 straitly = specifically; tenor = had to answer him; 43:25 against Joseph came = for Joseph's arrival; 43:30 bowels = heart; 44:12 left at = finished with; 45:16 fame = news; 45:24 fall not out by the way = have no argument on your way.

Prayer Needs:

Pray for Country: Ecuador (13 million) in South America, crossed by the equator · Major language: Spanish · Religious freedom · 91% Roman Catholic; 3% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Give thanks and praise to the Lord (Psalm 92:1).

Optional Reading: Matthew 15

Memory Verse for the Week: Colossians 1:14