Genesis 44:1-13: Caught in the headlights.

“Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house: ‘Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack. Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.’ And he did as Joseph said.  As morning dawned, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys. They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, ‘Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, “Why have you repaid good with evil? Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.”’ When he caught up with them, he repeated these words to them. But they said to him, ‘Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything like that! We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the silver we found inside the mouths of our sacks. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.’ 10 ‘Very well, then,’ he said, ‘let it be as you say. Whoever is found to have it will become my slave; the rest of you will be free from blame.’11 Each of them quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it. 12 Then the steward proceeded to search, beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13 At this, they tore their clothes. Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city.” NIV

‘…sometimes God seems to deal harshly and to speak roughly; but there is no change in the tender love of his heart. It costs Him immeasurably more than it does us. Often when some unusual severity has been evinced, if we could but see his face, it would be full of pity, pain and pleading on our behalf.’ F.B. Meyer.  This quote does, I believe, have relevance for chapter 44, because we see In Joseph’s dealings with his brothers, a picture of Christ’s ways with us. At times we experience ‘tough love’, and we need to.

We live in an age where many people don’t seem to fear consequences. But the Bible says, ‘’Be sure your sin will find you out’’ (Numbers 32:23). Joseph’s brothers had sinned, and lied, and, to all appearances, they had got away with it for years. They had no reason to fear exposure because the only person who could expose them was dead (44:20) – or so they thought! Nevertheless, they had in recent times had some unnerving experiences in Egypt, and these had forced them to face what they had done. They were about to be caught in the searchlights, and it seems they maybe felt the imminence of their exposure and punishment. They were not guilty of what they appeared to have done in these verses, but they were guilty of sin, and Joseph’s strategy was to get them to the point where they honestly admitted the fact. He wanted to see what was in their hearts.

When they left Egypt that morning, the sun shone down on them, and the skies were clear. They’d got out alive. They had Benjamin safely with them. I can almost hear them whistling!! Furthermore, they’d been treated royally by this imposing official, and they were sent on their way with an abundant provision of food. But how quickly the sky changed colour, from blue to grey, to black, and a massive storm broke over their heads. They got a drenching. Again, they must have been amazed and disturbed as ‘’the steward’’ worked through their sacks, moving from ‘’the oldest’’ to ‘’the youngest’’ (12). Also, though nothing was said about it, when their money was found in their sacks, they probably felt the walls closing in. Then, when Joseph’s cup was discovered in Benjamin’s sack, they tore their clothes, as if someone had died (13). What were they to think? Could Benjamin have done this? Was it a set-up? How would they prove their/his innocence? What would Judah say to his dad if he had to return home without the youngest brother? It was a mess. Furthermore, they had gone too far in the declaration of (9) – much like Jacob himself in (31;32).

Yes, sin has consequences, whatever popular opinion may say. They were about to have a head-on collision with the results of their sin, but also with the grace and mercy of God. ‘’But where sin increased, grace increased all the more…’’ (Romans 5:20). As we shall see, they were to come out of this car wreck with their lives, and so much more, for God is good.

PRAYER: Lord, I need to confess to you today the sin of…(fill in the blank for yourself). I have carried it and hidden it for too long, and you have seen it all along. As I bring it into the light, I ask for cleansing by the blood of Jesus, who alone can forgive sin. Thank you Lord.