Genesis 43:1-14: People can change.
“Now the famine was still severe in the land. 2 So when they had eaten all the grain they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, ‘Go back and buy us a little more food.’3 But Judah said to him, ‘The man warned us solemnly, “You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.” 4 If you will send our brother along with us, we will go down and buy food for you. 5 But if you will not send him, we will not go down, because the man said to us, “You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.”’6 Israel asked, ‘Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man you had another brother?’7 They replied, ‘The man questioned us closely about ourselves and our family. “Is your father still living?” he asked us. “Do you have another brother?” We simply answered his questions. How were we to know he would say, “Bring your brother down here”?’8 Then Judah said to Israel his father, ‘Send the boy along with me and we will go at once, so that we and you and our children may live and not die. 9 I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life. 10 As it is, if we had not delayed, we could have gone and returned twice.’11 Then their father Israel said to them, ‘If it must be, then do this: put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift – a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds. 12 Take double the amount of silver with you, for you must return the silver that was put back into the mouths of your sacks. Perhaps it was a mistake. 13 Take your brother also and go back to the man at once. 14 And may God Almighty grant you mercy before the man so that he will let your other brother and Benjamin come back with you. As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved.’” NIV
Jacob was prepared to let Benjamin go to Egypt, all-be-it reluctantly, because of the strong leadership Judah showed. He took responsibility. He put himself on the line sacrificially. He stepped up. Could this really be the Judah who led the way in selling Joseph, back in chapter 37; whose moral behaviour was so despicable (chapter 38)? But people can change. Judah changed so much that his father would end up pronouncing a great blessing on him (48:9, 10). We can take heart from this, and allow it to strengthen our faith.
Tom Hale makes a helpful comment about Jacob:
He was ‘full of apprehension: his faith was weak. He could barely manage to pray for the return of Simeon and Benjamin; he couldn’t have imagined that he was about to get Joseph back as well!’ (‘Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.193).
PRAYER: Thank you, Sovereign Lord, that you are able to do far more than we can ask or imagine.