May 31, 2019

Final Test, part 2

By: Larry Shaffer

Congrats to my brother-in-law Jim and Ellie!

Final Test, part 2 

Genesis 44 

Joseph, lesson 28 

Can People change? Really change? 

Let’s flash back to the beginning of the Joseph story before he was sold into slavery. Remember this? 

His (Joseph’s) brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so, they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms. 37:4 

Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more…Then his brothers said to him, ‘Are you actually going to reign over us? Are you really going to reign over us?’ So, they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. 37:5,8 

Judah said to his brothers, ‘what profit is it for us to kill our brother and cover up his blood?’ 37:26. 

Our God is a God who transforms lives. He uses events, trials and difficulties, influences of others and a myriad of situations, perfectly orchestrated to transform Individuals. Transformations from lost to found; from dead to alive; from condemned to redeemed; from orphan to sons and daughters of God. 

Yes, God uses events, influences and situations to get the attention of the wandering, such as the prodigal son. But true transformation of the heart needs more than just a “wake up call” from difficult times. There needs to be a change of heart. For the prodigal, his dire misery got his attention but the transformation happened when the text says, he came to his senses, Luke 15:17. 

What does it mean he came to his senses? God’s word in Jeremiah explain: 

‘Behold, days are coming’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, (we witness the transformation of Judah in the chapter we are studying, Genesis 44). ‘But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the Lord. I will put My law within them and on their heart, I will write it; and I will be their God and they shall be my people. Jeremiah 31:31-33. 

The Old Covenant was written on a stones. The New Covenant is written on the hearts of the redeemed. This is the point of transformation.

Let’s recap our story in Genesis 44: 

  • Joseph has his silver cup secretly hidden in Benjamin’s sack as a final test. His soldiers ride out and stop the brothers and ask why they have stolen from the lord of Egypt. 
  • The brothers swear they are innocent and pledge death to the one who stole it and the rest of them will be slaves in Egypt. 
  • The silver cup is found in Benjamin’s sack. The brothers return and bow before Joseph and Judah steps forward to speak. Judah pledges that all of them would be his slaves. 
  • Joseph says no, only the man who took it (Benjamin) will be my slave and the rest of the brothers are free. 

This is a defining moment for the brothers and especially Judah, who has risen to be the spiritual leader of the family. 20 years ago, the brothers, led by Judah, sold Joseph into slavery and were most willing to throw him to wolves. Today, Judah again has the opportunity to walk away and leave the current favorite son, Benjamin, in Egypt and all the brothers can live. They did it to Joseph then, why not do it to Benjamin now? 

  • Judah and the brothers didn’t run away. Judah asked to come close to Joseph. He pleaded for the life of Benjamin. He recounted the pain his father, Jacob, would have if they return without Benjamin. 
  • As a sign of a transformed heart, Judah said to Joseph, Now, therefore, please let your servant (Judah) remain instead of the lad a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers, 44:33. 

Many years ago, it was Judah who said, ‘let’s sell Joseph into slavery.’ That same person is now volunteering to pay the ransom to redeem Benjamin with his own life. He will be a slave instead of Benjamin. He will bear the punishment. He willingly sacrifices himself. 

What a transformation!!! 

Father, you are the God of transformation. You have given us new hearts. We once were lost, but now am found. We were blind, but now we see. Thank you for sending your Son to save us and redeem us. Just like Judah before Joseph, Your Son stands before You and says regarding me, ‘he is mine, I have paid his price.’ Amen!