May 29, 2019

Final Test

By: Larry Shaffer

‘Meet and Greet’ with Alex Rodriquez at ACG Intergrowth Conference.

Final Test

Genesis 44 

Joseph, lesson 27 

Then he commanded his house steward, saying, ‘Fill the men’s sack with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack. Put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, and his money for the grain.’  

And he did as Joseph had told him. As soon as it was light, the men were sent away, they with their donkeys. They had just gone out of the city, and were not far off, when Joseph said to his house steward, ‘Up, follow the men; and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid evil for good? 

My grade school best-friend, Rick, taught me how to steal candy bars from the store. Well, not so much taught me as dared me. We didn’t really have a well-thought out strategy or effective diversion tactic. Basically, I would walk to the candy aisle, look around nervously, stick a candy bar down my pants and walk out. The whole scenario made me nauseous. I was scared to death.  

I have always had such a tender conscience. I have hated it at times when I wanted to dive into sins and forget my responsibilities. But what a blessing a tender conscience from God is?  While walking toward the candy aisle, I remember thinking, ‘how can I do this?’ After all, I was chosen to give my Christian testimony in front of our entire church earlier that year. Apparently, I had a flare for public speaking and weaving a good story as many people came up to me with great enthusiasm and I received many compliments for my testimony.  

It’s funny what peer pressure will do to a 11-year-old boy. 

My crime spree was short-lived. After a successful streak of two or three heists, a manager followed me out and confronted me. I folded immediately and the look on my face must have convinced him I would never do it again. He scolded me and let me go. 

Anyway, this story doesn’t really have anything to do with our passage except that Joseph is setting up a final test and sets the stage to entrap Benjamin as a thief. How will the brothers respond? 

Joseph’s men caught up with the brothers and confronted them. ‘Why have you repaid evil for good? 

The brother’s respond to the accusations with these words: ‘Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your servants to do such a thing…How could we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house? With whomever of your servants it is found, let him die, and we also will be my lord’s slaves…Then they hurried, each man lowered his sack to the ground, and each man opened his sack. 

This final test of Joseph sets up an extremely emotional chain of events that takes the brothers through a roller coaster of emotions. At first, I thought, ‘why, Joseph, do you need to put them through another test? You’ve put them through enough.’ But I was wrong. This final test produces the most amazing results. 

He searched, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest, and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. Then they tore their clothes, and when each man loaded his donkey, they returned to the city. 

More next time. Our prayer is from the devotional, The Valley of Vision. 

Turn my heart from vanity, from dissatisfaction, from uncertainties of the present state, to an eternal interest in Christ. 

Let me remember that life is short and unforeseen, and is only an opportunity for usefulness. 

Give me a holy passion to redeem the time, to awake at every call to charity and piety, so that I may, 

Feed the hungry, 

Clothe the naked, 

Instruct the ignorant, 

Reclaim the vicious,  

Forgive the offender, 

Spread the gospel, 

Show neighborly love to all. 

Amen.