Thursday, October 13, 2011

Genesis 43:17-23

The verses we’ll look at today have some great “gems” for us! When Joseph’s brothers were taken to his house, instead of being relieved or feeling honored, they were terrified and assumed the worst:

Now the men were frightened when they were taken to his house. They thought, “We were brought here because of the silver that was put back into our sacks the first time. He wants to attack us and overpower us and seize us as slaves and take our donkeys.” (Gen 43:18)

They were expecting to reap what they had sown here. Notice how they believed Joseph wanted to attack them, overpower them, and make them slaves - which is exactly what they had done to their brother! So they passionately pleaded their case to Joseph’s steward:

So they went up to Joseph’s steward and spoke to him at the entrance to the house. “Please, sir,” they said, “we came down here the first time to buy food. But at the place where we stopped for the night we opened our sacks and each of us found his silver—the exact weight—in the mouth of his sack. So we have brought it back with us. We have also brought additional silver with us to buy food. We don’t know who put our silver in our sacks.” (Vs. 19-22)

It’s the steward’s response in verse 23 that we will focus on this morning:

“It’s all right,” he said. “Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver.”

It seems that Joseph’s steward worked closely with Joseph, for he knew about Joseph’s God, and he knew specifically the details of this particular business transaction. He assured the brothers that God must have put the “treasure” in their sacks, because their account was already paid in full! What a picture of what God has done for us!

The hardest thing for people to receive it seems is grace! We just can’t wrap our brains around the fact that our accounts have been paid in full. We have all heard this saying about what Christ did for us so many times, but we have difficulty personally applying it: “We owed a debt we could not pay; He paid a debt He did not owe!” We want to come to God on our terms, with our merits and gifts, but the Bible tells us our righteousness is like filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6)

There is NOTHING that we can add to the work of Christ on the cross! If we try to, either through some “religious” work - (a particular prayer, ritual, or work in the church) - or our own good deeds, we deny that Jesus paid it all. We in essence say, “What He did was not enough; I must do something to add to it.” We can offer our “works” as a sacrifice to demonstrate to the world the love God has poured out into our hearts, but these do NOT give us more favor before God or make us righteous. Paul wrote, "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."  (2 Cor 4:7)

Now, Beth Moore adds another look at the “treasure” that was buried in their sacks. She asks, “How did God bury treasures amidst the rubble for Jacob’s sons in Egypt?” (The Patriarchs, P. 210). When I think of the “rubble” in Jacob’s family, I think of their wretched relationships and the disastrous dysfunction that had nearly destroyed this family. I think of all that Joseph suffered, being betrayed, beaten, sold into slavery, then falsely accused and imprisoned. I think of the agony of Jacob, who refused to be comforted by his remaining sons. And then I think of the famine that threatened to obliterate this family physically. There was rubble, indeed!

So how did God bury treasure in their sacks? He placed Joseph exactly where he needed to be for the salvation of this family, and the ultimate salvation of all who would receive the Savior coming from this family. Beth asks us to think about what “treasures” God has buried amidst our own rubble. What a thought! When I think about the rubble of Jacob’s family, I think about all of the “messed-up” families I know about (in addition to the one in which I was raised). Some have bigger messes than others, but all have plenty of hurt and injury to fill a book that no one would believe! It always cracks me up when I’m with friends who are sharing stories about their “crazy” families, that none of us sees ourselves as the crazy family member. Which makes me think: I wonder what the crazy family members tell their friends??? Do they think WE are the crazy ones?

Don’t you know (or maybe you’re in) a family that is falling apart, because hurting words have been said that just can’t be taken back? or betrayal has been too deep? Does your family seem beyond repair? That’s why I LOVE the story of Jacob’s crazy family. What an amazing group of crazies!!! Yet, in the midst of this rubble, God is going to pull out the treasure of eternity! Oh, doesn’t that give you hope for your family? Is there a way you can see God work forgiveness and healing back into your family? Will you be willing to be part of the healing? We’ll see that, at any time, Joseph could have justifiably taken revenge on his brothers. Instead Joseph will become an instrument of mercy and forgiveness, and by that be used as a tool for carrying out God’s divine plan! But first, he will test his brothers some more. . . Joseph is noble, but he's also human!  :)


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