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By: Larry Shaffer
Moral Courage, part 3
Joseph, lesson 23
The brothers are at a stalemate with their father, Jacob. The brothers were forced to leave Simeon behind in prison in Egypt until they return with their younger brother, Benjamin. Joseph insisted they bring Benjamin as the next step in validating their word and then Simeon would be released. Then they would also have access to the storehouse of grain in Egypt to take back to their families. The stalemate was that Jacob would not allow them to take his favorite son, Benjamin.
Jacob was not being rational or reasonable. He was in denial. The brothers were stuck. They couldn’t do anything until their father had a change of mind. The issue, however, was the severity of the famine. Jacob and his family were going to starve to death if something wasn’t done.
Now the famine was severe in the land. So, it came about when they had finished eating the grain which they had brought from Egypt, that their father said to them, ‘Go back, buy us a little food.’ Judah spoke to him however, saying, ‘The man solemnly warned us, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’’ If you will send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food. But if you do not send him, we will not go down; for the man said to us, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’ 43:1-6.
Judah emerges with signs of moral courage and leadership. Judah had the birthright and is in the line of the Messiah. But he hasn’t acted as such…until now. Basically, he has lived as an unbeliever for all of his life. His sin and weaknesses are well recorded. The events surrounding their journey to and from Egypt has stirred his soul. After many years of avoiding his responsibilities, the recent events have moved his heart to awaken and say, ‘if something is to be done to save this family, then I must stand up and do it.’
This is a break-through. Judah continues to lead in the following statements.
Judah said to his father Israel, ‘Send the lad with me and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, we as well as you and our little ones.’ I myself will be surety for him; you may hold me responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before, then let me bear the blame before you forever. For if we had not delayed, surely by now we could have returned twice.’
Then their father Israel said them, ‘If it must be so, then do this…Take your brother also, and arise, return to the man; and may God Almighty grant you compassion in the sight of the man, so that he will release to you your other brother and Benjamin…then they arose and went down to Egypt and stood before Joseph. 43:8-15
Judah steps up and takes responsibility in the midst of a dire situation. With the exception of Joseph, morally weak, spineless men have been the story-line so far. There are many in our world today as well. God knows, I personally have had moments of courage, grit and initiative and solid leadership. But I’ve had more moments of failure, delay and playing it safe, as well. I do my best to hide them, as most of us do.
But for Judah and his brother, moral weakness has been chronic, until now. Judah takes the lead; he takes responsibility and he puts himself out front and assumes the consequences, whether they turn out to be good or bad. Where does this moral courage come from?
Many Bible teachers believe that Judah is a picture or type of a non-believer becoming a believer. A person born into sin, living a sinful life and then being saved, he is transformed. The transformation of Judah, I believe, is the power of God, through His Spirit to save, transform and change the heart of a man or woman. In Judah’s case, God is showing Himself as the God of Salvation.
Father, You are mighty to save and we ask that You would save us. Your saving power certainly begins with our initial atonement & forgiveness, but it goes beyond that unto sanctification. That means that You are strengthening our hearts, minds and souls daily in order to be servant-leaders and be at work in this world with courage to honor You with our lives. Fortify us to be men and women of God, exhibiting the courage You have given to make good decisions and take action and DO THE RIGHT THING in situations that will honor You. Use us and bless us as such. Amen.