Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 15 February 2022:
Genesis 44:2 – “…and put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, with his money for the grain.” And he did as Joseph told him.”
“When it comes down to it, there is but one question each person must ask himself: “Will I recognize God’s authority as supreme, or will I try to throw off the Creator’s restraints and lay claim to sovereignty?” In other words, will we bow the knee to the Lord gladly, or will we refuse to submit?
Adam tried to supplant divine authority and plunged the human race into sin, wherein all of us are born as children of wrath (Gen. 3:1–19; Rom. 5:12–21). But God was gracious and promised to do the work necessary to make for Himself friends and servants from some of Adam’s children. The Creator said there would one day be a people obedient to His precepts (Gen. 3:15; Jer. 31:31–34).
This people includes men like Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who by their sin showed that they could never merit the righteousness God requires, but had to lean upon His grace alone (Gen. 9:20–21; 12:10–20; 27). Nevertheless, the inevitable fruit of trusting the Lord for salvation is a life that increasingly conforms to the Almighty’s holy law (Gen. 17:1–2; James 2:14–26). Although they will struggle with sin until death, believers will repent and press forward toward the goal God sets before His people (Heb. 12:1–2).
Jacob’s son, Joseph, understood these truths well, and he knew that his brothers must repent and obey if they were to be the Lord’s people. Their crime of selling him into slavery because they were jealous of him (Gen. 37:25–28) did not automatically bar them from God’s promises — they would have been forever lost only if they, evidenced in an unchanged life, refused to serve God through an utter lack of faith. Happily, Joseph saw their newness of heart when they did not envy the favored position he gave to Benjamin (chap. 43).
Yet Joseph could not see the hearts of his brothers, and he further pressed them, looking for proof of their changed hearts. Since they had been disloyal to God’s people when they betrayed him, Joseph thought he might discern the state of his brothers’ souls by testing their loyalty to Benjamin. Today’s passage describes how Joseph initiated this test to see if their repentance was genuine.
The Lord our God puts us to the test so that we may reveal to others the true commitments of our hearts. Certainly, God knows in advance the outcome of any test that He gives us, but we are not to dwell on this truth. Instead, we should seek His aid that we might show our submission to His will and pass any test He sends our way. Today you will face the choice to trust and follow Christ or sin against Him. Lean on the Holy Spirit and by God’s grace you will pass this test.” (Ligonier Ministries)
Genesis 44:5, 15 – Joseph practiced divination (and had married into the Egyptian priesthood). It is incredibly difficult, nearly impossible, for God’s people to be a part of the worldly system without being influenced by it. How has culture influenced you to do things God forbids?
Genesis 44:18 — Then Judah went up to him and said, “Oh, my lord, please let your servant speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not your anger burn against your servant, for you are like Pharaoh himself.
“Joseph must have had hope that his brothers had become servants of the Lord when they came before him in torn garments (Gen. 44:13–14). After all, this gesture indicated their sorrow over the potential loss of Benjamin, implying that they were not happy to desert him like they were to abandon Joseph (chap. 37). His brothers’ confession of their sin (44:16) gave more proof of their repentance. Yet their hearts were invisible to Joseph, and that is why he did not accept the offer to make all of them his slaves. Instead, Joseph said he was willing to take only Benjamin and let the rest go free (v. 17), thereby putting the brothers in a situation similar to the one they were in years before. They profited from the sale of Joseph, the favored son, into slavery, and with Benjamin they were offered the chance to win their freedom at his expense. Whether or not they chose to profit themselves in the pharaoh’s court would show the true state of their souls.
Having served as the brothers’ spokesman once before (44:14–17), Judah again stepped forward to reply to Joseph’s offer, as we read in today’s passage. Imagine how conflicted Joseph must have felt when staring Judah in the eyes. This man convinced Jacob’s other sons to sell Joseph into slavery and all the misery that ensued in the land of the Nile (37:26–28). Would Joseph obey God’s command to love his enemies, especially if they show remorse for their sins (Luke 6:35)? Truly, his faith was tested during this episode.
What ensues is the longest, most impassioned speech in Genesis. Notably, Judah shows he has made peace with the fact that Jacob loves Rachel’s sons more than Leah’s. He repeatedly mentions the special affection his father has for Benjamin (Gen. 44:20, 27–29) and appeals to it so that the boy might go free (vv. 30–34). The fatherly favoritism that earlier sparked brotherly hatred is now the very ground upon which Judah stands to secure Benjamin’s release. Jacob may not love Judah as much, but Judah does not sinfully let this stand in the way of the Lord’s demand that he honor his father (Ex. 20:12) like he did when he callously abandoned Joseph into slavery.
Some of us may have had parents who loved a brother or sister more than they loved us. Some may let this fester into bitterness, leading them to neglect their duty to honor their parents and love their siblings. Even if our families were not like this, all of us have experienced feelings of rejection and exclusion. This too can fester into bitter anger. Confess any resentment you may hold against God or others and know that the Lord loves you.” (Ligonier Ministries)
Genesis 44:24-29 – Imagine how unloved Jacob’s sons not born from Rachel must have felt. So many world problems started in small, hurtful family environments, which why God is so specific about the sanctity of marriage, the protection of the family, and the requirements of love within the family. Family is the building block of society and intended to be the school house for Christlike character development.
Acts 4:18-20 – “So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.’”
Romans 13:1 is clear – “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” However, Jesus was also clear in Matthew 28 — “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” The ultimate Authority had commanded the Apostles to preach the Gospel, and no human authority could stop them; and today’s readings point out that the Apostles were astonishingly “bold” before the “rulers and elders and scribes,” despite being “uneducated, common men.” Why? Because Jesus was with them through the power of the Holy Spirit. And note that the Apostle’s message didn’t change whether they were speaking to the receptive or the resistant. The Apostles had the responsibility to proclaim the Gospel, but the responsibility to respond rested with the hearer.
Are you boldly “preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered”? (Acts 28:31) Or is something holding you back from fulfilling your primary calling — laws, policy, social pressure, insecurity? You have been empowered and given full authority by Jesus, and He is with you. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
- Romans 1:16 — For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
- Ephesians 6:18-20 — To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
- 1 Corinthians 9:16 — Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) — 15 Feb 22: Pray that God will give you the courage to proclaim the Gospel unhindered while displaying the power of the Gospel to transform a person’s life by your shockingly loving attitudes and actions.