February 6, 2008
A BANQUET OF GRACE
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Genesis 43:31-34
Joseph's brothers were astonished at the way they were being treated. They had expected any number of things to happen to them, including possible death, but certainly not this. Now here they were, seated according to age, dining with the prime minister. And what a feast! They were served fresh garden salads, thick T-bone steaks, fried okra, overstuffed baked potatoes, cornbread, black-eyed peas, and big glasses of iced tea (if Egypt was anything like Texas)! Besides that, the prime minister unloaded more food from his own table.
Benjamin, interestingly, was served portions five times the size of the other men. Those hungry Hebrews must have thought they'd died and gone to glory. Benjamin himself may have thought, I know I'm thin, but this is ridiculous. What's going on here?
By now Joseph was totally oblivious. This is Benjamin! My brother! He was so ecstatic, so overjoyed that he just kept piling on the food. Sounds like something an older brother would do for one he hasn't seen in ages, doesn't it? Especially when the elder is full of forgiveness and grace!
Amazing, isn't it, how Joseph's acts of grace freed up everyone around the tables. At the outset, there were feelings of anxiety and dread as guilt held them in its grip. Their fear had known no bounds as they returned to Egypt, wondering what they would face.
Within a brief span of time, they found themselves treated kindly, sitting around a banquet table loaded with food, and, of all things, relaxing in the joyful presence of royalty. What relief! Better than that, what grace! They were the recipients of favor they hadn't earned and kindness they didn't deserve. And they were overloaded with an abundance of provisions they could never repay. Is anyone surprised they were astonished and no longer afraid? Their fear was now displaced by grace. Why? One reason---Joseph. This great man, though not as yet known to them to be their brother, determined to forgive their mistreatment and, instead, demonstrate great grace. Rather than remind them of their wrongs and force them to pay for their cruelty and injustices from years gone by, he showed them favor to the maximum extreme. This reunion was really a banquet of grace---on full display---thanks to Joseph, a man of integrity and forgiveness.
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.