Devotional & Reflection

Week 1, December 2004

Gen 44 :
The Reversal

By Pang Hee Hung, Katartizo Resources Ltd

v1 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. v2 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 .....
v18 Then Judah went up to him and said: "Please, my lord, let your servant speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself .....
v32 Your servant guaranteed the boy's safety to my father. I said, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, I will bear the blame before you, my father, all my life!’ v33 “Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord's slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers.

The Set-Up

Some of us may have experienced the agony of being set-up in a conspiracy perpetrated by office colleagues, classmates or rivals. Here, in Gen 44, Joseph's brothers seemed to be framed by Joseph for the “theft” of a cup belonging to Joseph. Joseph was actually behind this “conspiracy” against Benjamin whose bag was found to contain the “stolen” cup.

Was Joseph evil? One has to look behind the set-up and examine the underlying motive behind Joseph’s deed. Joseph’s motive in staging the set-up on his brothers was to check their attitude towards Benjamin and to see if they had changed. After all, they had earlier sold Joseph for twenty shekels of silver (Gen 37:28) and in a twist of irony, the brothers became “victims” of Joseph’s test. Would they “sell out” Benjamin too and leave him at the mercy of a foreign governor, causing great grief to their father?

Taking Stock

The situation forced the brothers to take stock of their priorities. Their spirituality would be manifested. What would they do? Would the brothers think, “I can't help Benjamin” or “Let the governor have Benjamin?” What about us? Do we take stock of our lives when we undergo testing and trials?

The Substitution, The Sacrifice, A Slave

In this passage, Judah was led to the point whereby he had to take stock, stand up and speak up. Although Judah was not the eldest brother, he was the spokesman of the group. What qualified him to be the spokesman and the leader amongst the brothers? It was because he was prepared to pay the price. Benjamin could become a slave as punishment for stealing Joseph's silver cup (Gen 44:17). But Judah offered himself in place of his brother Benjamin (Gen 44:33). It was a huge sacrifice on Judah's part. It was a substitutionary offer that was a foretaste of Jesus substitutionary and sacrificial offering.

All too often, Christian servants who want to be the spokesperson or leader get drawn into a secular, top-down approach in leading the flock. From Judah, we learn that he who wants to lead and be the spokesperson must be willing to pay the price of sacrifice and be a slave or servant of all (Gen 44:33, Mark 10:43-45).

1. What challenge is God setting us up for?
2. What priorities does God want us to take stock of?
3. What is the price we have to pay in walking right?
4. Who is one person you know who has paid the price? What can we learn from that person?

When We Are Weak,
God is Strong.

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