Friday, 17 January 2014

(18) January 18: Genesis 42-43 and Matthew 13v33-58

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read note the signs the brothers may be feeling guilt over their treatment of Joseph.

To ponder:
Again the promise seems under threat: Will Jacob and sons live or die in the famine (42v2)? Jacob’s rebuke to the brothers for not taking action (v1) affirms that our decisions are at the same time God’s means of working out his purposes. We need to seek their fulfilment.
            Throughout we see the loss of Joseph behind the events. It is for this reason Jacob is concerned about harm coming to Benjamin (42v36-38). Yet we also see God’s purpose in Joseph’s hardships being fulfilled. As the brothers bow down his dreams comes to pass (v6, 9). But Joseph is not going to make it easy. His apparent scheming doesn’t seem to flow from vengeance. He fears God (v18) and on reflection softens his requirements of the brothers (v16-20). Moreover, he is deeply moved when seeing Benjamin (43v30). Rather, his focus on Benjamin seems an attempt to test the rest – to see if their attitude has changed.
            It seems it has: The brothers are deeply aware of their prior guilt, seeing what happens as an accounting (42v21-23). Moreover, the focus is on the two brothers who were mentioned when Joseph was sold. Reuben is still prepared to step up; although he blames the others (42v22) and makes the obviously rash promise that Jacob could kill both his sons if he doesn’t bring Benjamin back (42v37). Judah, however, has come on: Having previously suggested selling Joseph, he offers to take Benjamin and guarantees his safety (43v8-10). Perhaps aware of the blame he already carries, he says he will bear the blame “all my life” if anything happens to him.
            What also starts to be hinted at, is that despite their guilt, the brothers are being protected by God’s grace. This is represented by Joseph freely giving them the grain, Jacob’s (Israel’s) prayer that God would show mercy to them (43v14), the declaration by Joseph’s servant that “the God of your father” had given them the treasure that was returned to them (43v23), and Joseph’s blessing of “God be gracious” to Benjamin (43v29).
            Past wickedness doesn’t exclude us from present grace. Just consider the apostle Paul. And that grace is not just saving grace but transforming grace. Our guilt is atoned for through Christ’s death and our hearts are changed by his Spirit. God had been shaping the brothers. His concern is for “a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Tit 2v14).

Praying it home:
Thank God for the marks of saving and transforming grace in your life. Pray that work would continue and that you would be prepared to serve the fulfilment of God's purposes.

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