Genesis | Chapter 43

Genesis 43:1-34

 “Unexpected grace”

  1. Intro.
  2. Vs. 1-15 Not Egypt again
  3. III. Vs. 16-25 Suspicious of grace
  4. Vs. 26-34 Righteous reunion


Samuel Johnson once said, “Shame arises from fear of men but conscience from the fear of God!” Last week we saw that Joseph’s brothers finally had gained a conscience but this week we shall see that they also have fear of men. What this reveals is that they are as James puts it “double minded” men unstable in all their ways! How unfortunate that many times in our lives our fear of men overrides our fear of God and we rob ourselves of greater blessings which could have been ours had we simply chosen to trust the Lord. What blesses me is that in spite of their fear of men God brings them to total surrender by making them face their fear through unexpected grace!

Vs. 1-15 Not Egypt again

Vs. 1-7 Have you ever had déjà vu? You know the feeling that you have heard or seen something before? How about having had a very bad experience some place and have to repeatedly go by the place where you experienced it? Well if you can relate that is what Egypt was for those brothers. There are three things these men do out of fear instead of responding in faith:

  1. Vs. 1-2a “Put it off and put it off some more”: We are told that the famine in the land was severe and that they had eaten up the grain that they had brought from Egypt. These guys were in no hurry to go back and deal with their fear of men so they waited until all the food they had brought was gone and still Dad had to tell them to go. Clearly there was a clash of will’s between Jacob and his son’s. Jacob wanted them to go and get grain in Egypt but the boys didn’t want to go unless Benjamin went with them so they both waited hoping that the famine would end and they would need to go back. But what about Simeon? He is in prison awaiting their return! Look at Judah’s words to Jacob in verse 10 “If we had not lingered, surly by now we would have returned the second time.” Procrastination just compounds the problems they already faced as well as putting undo hardships on others!
  2. Vs. 2b-5 Play down the situation or play up the situation: Jacob knows the specifics of the deal to get more grain and to release his 2nd son Simeon. It will take nothing less them Benjamin to go with his 10 older brothers to Egypt, but look at what he say’s here, “Go back and buy a little food”. In other word’s Jacob thinks if the amount of food is smaller perhaps he can’t skirt around having to deal with the fear of losing Benjamin. What they don’t know is according to the interpretation of the dream and Joseph’s words to his brothers in 45:6 the famine was going to last another five years. Judas’s response shows the other end of this as he responds, “Easy for you to say Dad as you won’t suffer the consequences of not obeying the Prime Minister”. They are at a stand off and neither one of them is going to blink.
  3. Vs. 6-7 Blame someone else for the situation: Ok now you have put off the situation, played of the situation, the only thing else left is to blame someone for the situation. So that is what Jacob does, “Hey if you hadn’t told the Prime Minister you had a brother you wouldn’t be in the spot you’re in!” This was part of the guilt your son’s to do what you want them to do plan of Jacob’s. Of coarse the son’s response back was “Dad the guy asked us point blank if we had any other brothers or a dad still alive, did you want us to lie?

Vs. 8-10 Judah offers assurance of himself for his brother Benjamin if it came down to that. Three things no doubt led to Jacob’s agonizing decision to let Benjamin go to Egypt with his brothers:

  1. There was a sever famine in the land and he could not really wait for it to end.
  2. His son’s refused to go with out him.
  3. Judah’s assurance that he would trade his life for Ben’s.

But what is not in that equation is simple trust in the Lord!

Vs. 11-15 Jacob practices fatalism instead of faith and there are three clear indications of this:

  1. 11a “If it must be so, then do this:” Jacob was not making a choice to trust the Lord rather he saw it as no other choice. It was necessity that was driving Jacob to let Benjamin go with his brothers to Egypt. Now personally I’m thankful for this as God often puts me into the pressure cooker where He, in His love, limits my options down to where I really have no other logical choice. Paul wrote of it this way in 2 Co. 4:11 “For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”
  2. 11b-12 Clearly we see Jacob trying to stack the deck in his favor so that everything will turn out the way he wants. Amazingly they don’t have enough grain but they do have some of these other delicacies to attempt to bribe a foreign dignitary.
  3. 13-14 “If I am bereaved, I am bereaved!” What is interesting is that he says these words after a prayer of success, which reveals that what he prayed he did not believe, would take place anyway! In today’s language this might read, “Lord bless what we are about to do but if you aren’t going to my life is ruined already anyway!”

Vs. 15 The interesting thing is that as we go back to the 37:28 the word for silver there and money here is the same Hebrew word. The words “double the amount” refer to a unit of money that is the same amount of money they received from the Midianites when they sold Joseph 20 years earlier. There they split the amount between 10 of them here they each have to pay that same amount back and though they don’t realize it yet they are giving it to the one the wronged. There really are no short cuts are there? These guys are bringing back the money given them for the wrong they did to the person they wronged but even this won’t purchase a clear conscience that can only be received by faith!

III. Vs. 16-25 Suspicious of grace

Vs. 16-22 These guys had to travel 200 miles so I’m sure they ran every possible scenario through their minds on how they were going to approach the Prime Minister. What I’m equally certain of what they least expected was kindness and grace. In fact, it seems as though it was this grace that brought the greatest fear. I think that is true with the Lord’s dealings with us well. It is when we stand before Him knowing our total unworthiness to be in His presence and He showers us with His goodness that we begin to think that we are in really big trouble. They did not know what this Prime Minister was going to do towards them and they were certainly deserving of what ever they got. Can you imagine all those things running through their heads? I bet as they began to explain about the money in their bags that they began to talk real fast. It was the first time that we read that they were actually innocent and they were in a hurry to defend themselves.

Vs. 23-24 The words of Joseph’s servant are quite revealing, “Peace be with you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks; I had your money.” It tells us two things:

  1. It shows us the terror that was very apparent in their actions otherwise the servant would not have said “Peace be with you, do not be afraid.
  2. Secondly, the words “Your God and the God of your father has given you” shows that Joseph must have been very active in sharing his faith to those around him and that this fellow obviously gives the glory of the provisions in their grain sacks to the Lord and no one else.

These brothers had though that they were going to be what was for supper and not invited to the supper. Isn’t God great as He bless us not based upon our merit but rather His? One day we will appear before his throne guilty and worthy of eternal judgment and Jesus will stand next to us declaring to all that His blood and His blood alone has forgiven our every wrong. Then He will walk each of us out of the doors of the courtroom and into a huge banquet hall where we will be seated at His table for a huge feast and celebration held in our honor. OUR HONOR? How could anything in heaven be for my honor? Well it is because of Jesus!

Vs. 25 What an emotional roller coaster these brothers must have been on. They had rehearsed and planed every response to what they feared awaited them only to be caught completely off guard by “unexpected grace”! Was their success because of all their strategies they might have wondered?

Vs. 26-34 Righteous reunion

Vs. 26-28 These poor fellows they don’t know what to do so they just proceed with the plan they have and try to present the Prime Minister with the gift of nuts. Joseph could careless about the nuts. What’s more important to you, things or people? What a contrast between Joseph and his brothers, “What do you mean how’s our father, can’t you see how great these nuts are that we brought you?”

Vs. 29-34 Joseph hadn’t seen his brother since Benjamin was around four years old and his emotions at God faithfulness overwhelms him as he has to go to his room to weep for joy. The words of Joseph towards Benjamin should have been as hint that this Prime Minister was a little different. Further more the seating of the family in order of their age definitely blew their minds. I’m not sure who to give credit to this but some person calculated the odds of a stranger arranging 11 brothers according to their age at 1 in 40 million.

Joseph reveals further things about his identity by not sitting with them or with the other Egyptians as Egyptians’ were forbidden to eat with a foreigner. So clearly Joseph was not an Egyptian. Giving their youngest brother five times their portion would have provided another clue as well as a test t their hearts about favoritism and jealousy. More on that next week but we leave these fellows all eating and having a great feast and it wasn’t because of the bags of nuts they brought it was simply because of receiving the unmerited favor offered by another. Christian what a great picture we have in this for us. We can try to earn God’s favor by or works and nuts or we can simply sit down at God’s banquet table and enjoy Him. Solomon wrote in Song of Solomon 2:4 “He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.”