Is it a trick?

By 18/10/2020From Nigel

Joseph has released his brothers to travel back to Canaan with the all the food they can carry (Genesis 44:1). Their money has also been returned to them but, Joseph has paced his silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. It’s a set up!

Soon, Joseph’s men catch up with them and demand to know why they have stolen from Joseph (vs 3-5). The brothers protest their innocence.

Whichever of your servants is found with it shall die, and we also will be my lord’s servants. Genesis 44:9

The cup was found in Benjamin’s sack (vs10-12). What was going on here? Was Joseph playing with them or being vindictive?

Joseph was apparently testing their genuineness, testing their repentance was real. I can remember, on several occasions, in the process of leading now dear friends to the Lord, that point in repentance when you wonder if this is an emotional response or genuinely real. One person repented for over an hour, confessing to all sorts of things. Another handed over icons and books and things they had dotted all around their home putting them into a huge cardboard box which they then insisted I took to the tip immediately. Another invited me to a bonfire in their back garden which was quite fearsome.

It’s just a thought but do we test repentance? Is the lack of repentance why we are dealing with Christians struggling with their faith and the pull of the world?

How would the brothers react? Would they betray one of their own? Twenty years before they planned the death of Joseph, would they sacrifice another brother for their own good. Would they take into consideration their father’s feelings towards losing another son?

Benjamin was now on a road to execution.

The brothers demonstrated a very clear and deep repentance. Judah acted as their spokesperson.

And Judah said, “What shall we say to my lord? What shall we speak? Or how can we clear ourselves? God has found out the guilt of your servants; behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we and he also in whose hand the cup has been found.” Genesis 44:16

They were clearly admitting their guilt. This is so helpful in regard to the issue of repentance. When we lead someone to the Lord we can often leave out or avoid the tricky issue of the confession of sin and admittance of wrong by rather moving swiftly to the love of Jesus. The brothers thought at this point that they were being justly punished for what they had done wrong. They were now sorry for their sin. However Joseph offered them freedom as long as Benjamin remained in Egypt as a slave (vs 17).

At this point we get an incredibly moving and emotional response from Judah (18-34). How things had changed with now a plea for salvation.

Years before they had not cared for their father Jacob but now they were very different (isn’t this so helpful?). Jacob loved Benjamin greatly (vs 18-20). Jacob had released Benjamin reluctantly (vs 21-29). Jacob’s life is bound up in Benjamin’s life (vs 30). If Judah goes back to Canaan without Benjamin, it will break Jacob’s heart (vs 30-31). Judah is pleading for Benjamin out of his great love for Jacob.

See the picture of Christ and our own salvation here as Judah offers himself as a substitute. Let me take the penalty, let me pay the price for another.

Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the boy as a servant to my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers. Genesis 44:33

Out of Judah’s great love for his father he is prepared to become a substitute, to pay the debt in order for Benjamin to be released. It is precisely the thing that Jesus did for us on the cross. On the cross, it was as if Jesus was saying to his father “let me remain instead of…..(put your name in here).” “Let me take the place of the ones who have sinned. Let me face your anger instead of them.” Judah is being Christ-like, he would rather bear Benjamin’s punishment in order that another would be restored to his father. He (Jesus) would rather bear our punishment so that we might be restored to the father.

Can I recommend a book: Pierced for our transgressions: Rediscovering The Glory Of Penal Substitution by Steve Jeffery & Mike Ovey.

A helpful definition of penal substitution is provided by the authors of that book: “The doctrine of penal substitution states that God gave himself in the person of his Son to suffer instead of us the death, punishment and curse due to fallen humanity as the penalty for sin”

John Piper adds: “If God did not punish his Son in my place, I am not saved from my greatest peril, the wrath of God. We have only one hope and it is “that the infinite wisdom of God might make a way for the love of God to satisfy the wrath of God so that I might become a son of God”

J I Packer explains how penal substitution theologically explains everything else regarding the saving efficacy of Christ’s death.

Note the following sequence.

“What did Christ’s death accomplish?
It redeemed us to God – purchased us at a price, that is, from captivity to sin for the freedom of life with God (Titus 2:14, Revelation 5:9)

How did it do that?
By being a blood-sacrifice for our sins (Ephesians 1:7, Hebrews 9:11-15)

How did that sacrifice achieve its redemptive effect?
By making peace, achieving reconciliation, and so ending enmity between God and ourselves (Romans 5:10, 2 Corinthians 5:18-20, Ephesians 2:13-16, Colossians 1:19-20).

How did Christ’s death make peace?
By being a propitiation, an offering appointed by God himself to dissolve his judicial wrath against us by removing our sins from his sight (Romans 3:25, Hebrews 2:17, 1 John 2:2, 4:10).

How did the Saviour’s self-sacrifice have this propitiatory effect?
By being a vicarious enduring of the retribution declared due to us by God’s own law (Galatians 3:13, Colossians 2:13-14) in other words, by penal substitution”

I think this is appropriate from G.F.Handel (1685-1759) “turn it up”

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
The kingdom of this world is become
the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ,
and of His Christ;
And He shall reign for ever and ever,
King of kings, and Lord of lords.
King of kings, and Lord of lords.
King of kings, and Lord of lords,
and Lord of lords,
and He shall reign,
and He shall reign for ever and ever,
for ever and ever,
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
And He shall reign for ever and ever, for ever and ever.
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
And He shall reign for ever and ever,
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah!

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