Will you pass the test like Judah? | Genesis 44
03/20/20 08:29 PM Genesis
In chapter 43 Joseph began to covertly pry into the consciences of his brothers, in an attempt to get them to acknowledge their sin and come to repentance. In this chapter we’re going to see Joseph continue that testing until it reaches its climax. Will the Israelites abandon Benjamin like they did Joseph? Or will they try to save him?
Same goes for us. When under persecution, will we stand for the kingdom of God or will we put our own interests first? Overcomers put the kingdom first.
Let us begin reading.
JOSEPH SETS ANOTHER TRAP FOR HIS BROTHERSGenesis 44:1 And he commanded the steward of his house, saying, Fill the men's sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put every man's money in his sack's mouth.
Genesis 44:2 And put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack's mouth of the youngest, and his corn money. And he did according to the word that Joseph had spoken.
Why would Joseph do such a thing? Why would he set his brothers up like this by hiding his silver cup in Benjamin’s sack to make him look like a thief? The answer is simple. God was using him to test his brothers. He wanted to search to see what was in their hearts. How will they react?
And you know what, sometimes we, like Joseph’s brothers, also need to be put under pressure to see how we react. To see what comes out of our heart. It’s difficult to know what is in a man’s heart until he is put to the test. I’ve listed below just a few scriptures that talk about God testing people’s hearts.
Jeremiah 17:10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
Revelation 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
Psalms 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
Psalms 139:24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Genesis 44:3 As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their asses.
Genesis 44:4 And when they were gone out of the city, and not yet far off, Joseph said unto his steward, Up, follow after the men; and when thou dost overtake them, say unto them, Wherefore have ye rewarded evil for good?
Genesis 44:5 Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth? ye have done evil in so doing.
This plan that Joseph devised lets us know a little more about him. Joseph is an intentional guy. He does things with a purpose. He doesn’t just float through life aimlessly, he is tactical about what he does. We can learn so much from him. He isn’t the only one. There are so many examples in the Bible illustrating, how that we, as Christians should be strategic in all that we do.
Think strategically like Joseph. Be intentional about everything you do. After that, leave it in God’s hands.
Genesis 44:6 And he overtook them, and he spake unto them these same words.
Genesis 44:7 And they said unto him, Wherefore saith my lord these words? God forbid that thy servants should do according to this thing:
Genesis 44:8 Behold, the money, which we found in our sacks' mouths, we brought again unto thee out of the land of Canaan: how then should we steal out of thy lord's house silver or gold?
“We’re innocent! Look, we have a track record of honesty with you”, the brothers proclaim.
Genesis 44:9 With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord's bondmen.
Genesis 44:10 And he said, Now also let it be according unto your words: he with whom it is found shall be my servant; and ye shall be blameless.
Joseph’s servant responds by saying, “No, I’m not going to kill anyone, I’ll only take for a servant the man who has stolen.”
Genesis 44:11 Then they speedily took down every man his sack to the ground, and opened every man his sack.
Genesis 44:12 And he searched, and began at the eldest, and left at the youngest: and the cup was found in Benjamin's sack.
Genesis 44:13 Then they rent their clothes, and laded every man his ass, and returned to the city.
Genesis 44:14 And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph's house; for he was yet there: and they fell before him on the ground.
Fell before him on the ground- Again, fulfilling the prophecy that his brothers would bow down to him and serve him (Gen. 37:10). You know, since Joseph is a type of Christ, this reminds me of the prophecy that says every knee shall bow to Jesus when He returns. As it is written:
“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW, every tongue shall swear. Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed.” -Isaiah 45:24
Just as God’s promise to Joseph that his brothers who betrayed him would one day bow down to him, all those who mock you for your faith will one day bow down before you (Isaiah 60:14 & Revelation 3:9).
Genesis 44:15 And Joseph said unto them, What deed is this that ye have done? wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine?
Joseph being a godly man, surely didn’t actually perform the pagan practice of divination, I don’t buy that for one minute. He was just acting out his role in front of this brothers while trying to paint a grim picture of what they had done. “No one steals the divining cup from a leader of Egypt!”
And it’s going to work. This is going to put great fear in the Israelites. Check this out:
Genesis 44:16 And Judah said, What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord's servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found.
Don’t overlook this statement! Judah said, “God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants”. No doubt he and the Israelites now more firmly believe that God is punishing them for what they had done to Joseph twenty years ago. They perceive that no matter what they do, they cannot escape the wrath of God. And that is true. No one can.
Genesis 44:17 And he said, God forbid that I should do so: but the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant; and as for you, get you up in peace unto your father.
Here, echoing the words of his servant, Joseph says, “No, I’m not going to punish you guys, just the one (Benjamin) who stole the cup.
Now, this is really important. We’re getting to the climax of why God was using Joseph to test his brothers. God wants to see if they will willingly leave Benjamin behind as a slave in Egypt, or, if they will stand up for him. Have their hearts changed any in 20 years since they so wickedly sold their other youngest brother Joseph? That’s the question God wants an answer to. That’s what these trials are all about.
JUDAH OFFERS HIMSELF FOR BENJAMINGenesis 44:18 Then Judah came near unto him, and said, Oh my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord's ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant: for thou art even as Pharaoh.
Then Judah came near unto him- Notice how Judah speaks on behalf of the brothers. This shows though he wasn’t the oldest, he had somehow assumed the role as leader. And I think we are going to soon discover why.
Genesis 44:19 My lord asked his servants, saying, Have ye a father, or a brother?
Judah is now going to give his testimony. He is going to open up to Joseph in such a heartfelt way giving him a little background of the predicament his family is in, and plead for Benjamin to be set free.
Genesis 44:20 And we said unto my lord, We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, a little one; and his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother, and his father loveth him.
His brother is dead- In reference to Joseph who Judah assumes is dead. (Disciples thought Jesus was dead too after he was betrayed, but he too was alive! - after the resurrection.)
Genesis 44:21 And thou saidst unto thy servants, Bring him down unto me, that I may set mine eyes upon him.
Genesis 44:22 And we said unto my lord, The lad cannot leave his father: for if he should leave his father, his father would die.
Genesis 44:23 And thou saidst unto thy servants, Except your youngest brother come down with you, ye shall see my face no more.
Genesis 44:24 And it came to pass when we came up unto thy servant my father, we told him the words of my lord.
Genesis 44:25 And our father said, Go again, and buy us a little food.
Genesis 44:26 And we said, We cannot go down: if our youngest brother be with us, then will we go down: for we may not see the man's face, except our youngest brother be with us.
Genesis 44:27 And thy servant my father said unto us, Ye know that my wife bare me two sons:
Genesis 44:28 And the one went out from me, and I said, Surely he is torn in pieces; and I saw him not since:
Genesis 44:29 And if ye take this also from me, and mischief befall him, ye shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.
Genesis 44:30 Now therefore when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad be not with us; seeing that his life is bound up in the lad's life;
His life is bound up in the lad’s life- Way of saying that Jacob loved Benjamin dearly.
Genesis 44:31 It shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad is not with us, that he will die: and thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave.
Genesis 44:32 For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to my father for ever.
Genesis 44:33 Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren.
This is what it is all about! All of this testing culminates right here, and Judah passed! Judah says, “Take me instead”. Quite a bit different than the Judah we know of 20 years ago. When his brother Joseph lay in the pit crying for mercy, he had no heart to stand up for him but rather suggested to have him sold as a slave to Egypt for twenty pieces of silver. How pathetic.
But what a change of heart!
Judah here represents every truly born-again Christian. One who used to live selfishly unto themselves, but who now is willing to lay down his life for the benefit of his brother and his father.
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” -Matthew 16:24-25
Denying ourselves takes courage. You know 20 years ago Reuben did try and save Joseph’s life by convincing his brothers to have him thrown him into a pit instead of killing him, in order to buy time to set him free later. We know that plan didn’t work out. As the firstborn Reuben should have had the courage to stand up and say, “Over my dead body, you will not lay one finger upon my brother”. But he didn’t. He put his own life before the life of his brothers.
Note: Judah obviously loved his father and couldn’t stand seeing him hurt again by losing Benjamin.
Jesus says: “Greater love hath no man this this, that a many lay down his life for his friends.” -John 15:13
God wants to form your heart so you can be fit to enter into His eternal city. That’s the purpose of life’s trials and tribulations.
Genesis 44:34 For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father.
CONCLUSION:These boys got it terribly wrong the first time when they so wickedly sold Joseph into slavery. All they thought about was themselves .But now they’ve changed! And I think the trial that Joseph put them through had a lot to do with it. It caused them to look at things from a different perspective and to examine their own hearts.
God does the same thing for us. Sometimes we go through various trials and tribulations to work the impurities out of our own hearts. Daniel 11:25 says, “And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.
With that said, next week we’ll see how Joseph reacts to all of this.