Back in the 1960s and 1970s the big anthem was love. Love, peace--those were the two big words floating around. And perhaps the anthem that summed that era up was a song called "All You Need Is Love." And the words are interesting. I've always enjoyed the song but I disagree with it because they would sing nothing you can do that can't be done, nothing you can sing that can't be sung, nothing you can do but you can learn how to play the game, it's easy, all you need is love. So the song said love is easy. The solution is easy--all you need is love. Well it is easy to love. It's really easy to love those who are lovely. Those who are sweet and those who are nice and those who are responsive and those who think you're the greatest thing since sliced bread. That's easy. But for you to love the angry, contemptuous, bitter, cantankerous--that's not so easy. To love the lovely--that's natural. To love the unlovely--that's supernatural. Joseph faces off with his brothers. They were brothers. You might think they would have a natural love but a lot of water has been under the bridge of jealousy in their lives. They sold him as a slave 21 years before and Joseph remembers it like it was yesterday. And yet, when they come looking for grain in Egypt and he's the second-in-command, he is the big kahuna, he's number two next to Pharaoh, when they come looking for grain and he recognizes them, they do not recognize him, he has to excuse himself. He goes into the next room and he begins to cry. He begins to weep. His heart is tender toward them. He loves them. He's willing to forgive them. He is willing to love the unlovely.
Payback--that's natural. Pardon--that's supernatural. He's willing to do that--the second. He's willing to pardon them and he will extend his pardon to them in chapter 45. Now chapters 43, 44, and 45 are all one unit. All one meeting. There were three meetings that Joseph had with his brothers. Tonight we look at the second meeting and we won't have time to look at all of these chapters into chapter 45, we'll have to just wait, because we don't want to miss anything. But in these meetings Joseph has a posture toward them. He's tough. He's hard on them it seems. It's really all a ploy because he's giving them a test. The first test, last week we covered, was the test of sincerity. The second test we look at tonight and the third test. The second is the test of jealousy. They were jealous of Joseph 21 years before. I wonder how they are toward the next favorite son, Benjamin? I wonder what they're gonna say about him? That's why he demanded that they bring their youngest son Benjamin. They had disclosed that they had a son at home with his father and he was back in Canaan and so this ruler, Joseph, number two, the big kahuna, says you'll never have an audience with me again, you'll never see my face again, until you bring your youngest brother with you.
Now there's something happening spiritually, divinely. You see, God wants to do a work in these boys' lives. Well they're not boys; they're men, some of them advanced in age. He wants to do a work in them and what is the work? Well you know, you know the history, you know the story. They're going to be founders of the nation. It's Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the twelve tribes, the twelve sons of Jacob will become the pillars of the nation. They're gonna bring forth the Messiah. But God has to do some work in them before He will work through them. It's always a pattern. God's always interested in chipping away at our lives and doing a deep work in us so that He might work powerfully through us. So they're still growing spiritually and they need to be awakened spiritually and by these tests that will happen. So Joseph gives them a series of tests to see how far they have grown in their relationship with one another. God is preparing for them for that relationship with Him and for the work that He wants to do. So they get tested. Joseph also has gone through his own set of tests apart from them. While he's been in Egypt, he had the test, we remember, of adversity. We covered that. Passed it with flying colors. The second test, which I believe was harder than the first, was the test of prosperity. He was suddenly promoted, suddenly wealthy, suddenly in control and in charge. That's more difficult to handle. Joseph passed it with flying colors. It seems that no matter what the terrain, no matter what the conditions that Joseph was thrown into, the guy just went with it, flowed with it, and was successful in it.
Joseph reminds me of that little boy who spent all of his time one day making a boat. Hours and hours were spent gluing piece after piece and drawing on it and painting it and he was so excited to put that little boat on the lake and let it sail. A breeze had come up, he thought it was just perfect and he set it on the lake and the breeze turned into a mighty wind that blew that boat and sunk the boat. The boat he had made, he had labored on, sank. And instead of crying and getting all upset, why me? Why did it happen? He smiled and said wow, it looks like a great day to fly a kite! He went home and he got his kite. Joseph was like that. Whether he was in prison or whether he was prospering, he had that navigational pointer toward the Lord and, as we said, Romans 8:28 could've been his life verse. All things work together for good to those who love God and are the called according to His purpose. Ok I mentioned that there's three meetings all together. The first meeting we saw last week. The second meeting takes place in chapters 43, 44, and 45. Joseph did not reveal himself to his brothers until the second meeting. Not the first. They didn't recognize him the first time. But the second time they met together, they will recognize him. He'll reveal himself to them. I'm bringing that up because I see, again, like you saw in the little opening video, that Joseph is a type of Jesus. Just as Joseph was recognized not until the second time, it's a type of Jesus and His Jewish brethren. They didn't recognize Him the first time. He came into His own and His own? Received Him not. Jesus stood on the Mount of Olives and cried out and He said O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I would've gathered you as a mother hen gathers her chicks but you were not willing. They failed to recognize Him the first time. But they will recognize Him the second time. When He comes the second time, they'll understand He was their Messiah. He was and is their Messiah. The Savior of the world. They'll get it then.
Now that was one of the points that Stephen made in Acts chapter 7 when he recounts this part of Genesis. And there Stephen, addressing the Sanhedrin, says Jacob, when he heard that there was grain in Egypt, sent our father's first, that is these ten sons, but then he said the second time Joseph revealed himself to them. The prophet Zechariah tells us what will happen when Jesus comes the second time and the nation of Israel recognizes Him, albeit for most it will be too late. In Zechariah 12 it reads: I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication and they will look on Me whom they have pierced, yes they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his own son. So we have a type of that here. Just keep that in mind. It's fascinating to study Joseph's life because of that. If I were to divide, and I will divide up for your sake, these next two chapters, now we're gonna cover one chapter, we may cover two chapters, I always leave that open, if we don't, we'll finish that up for next week. But here's the division: there's number one a predicament in Canaan. That's verses 1 through 15: a predicament in Canaan. The famine gets worse and worse and now it's at the worst. Predicament in Canaan. Then, verses 16 through verse 34, the end of the chapter, there's a party in Egypt. So from a predicament in Canaan we go to the party in Egypt. It's a great party. And then finally, chapter 44, is there's penitence in the brothers of Joseph, in the hearts of men--penitence. They repent. They get found out. they know that the Lord's behind this and they come clean. And that leads to a beautiful reunion.
So verse 1 chapter 43, here's the predicament in Canaan: "Now the famine was severe in the land." We were introduced to the famine last week. Seven years it was predicted. Now the famine is severe. "And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the grain which they had brought from Egypt, that their father said to them, "Go back, buy us a little food." It's sort of interesting that they evidently waited a long time and didn't do anything. They didn't move. They just got the grain that they bought last time and they're eating it up, eating it up, eating it up, and not doing anything. Meanwhile, Simeon is down in Egypt rotting in jail. But they're not budging. They just sort of wait and why is that? Because they know that the ruler said don't come back until you bring Benji. You gotta bring Benji or you're not gonna see my face. They don't want to bring that up to the old man. Nobody wants to broach the subject. Nobody wants to talk to him about it because, we saw last week, when they did he put his foot down. When Reuben suggested, you know, I'll kill my boys and I'll take Benjamin down, and he completely disregarded it. So they're just eating away, eating away, eating away, getting hungrier and hungrier. You know, there's nothing like hunger to motivate a person. And when you get hungry enough, you'll work anywhere. You'll do anything for food. One of the things that I so appreciate about you is your spiritual hunger. And that's why before I ever crack a book or consider a text, I pray that God would feed you spiritually, meeting your needs, so thankful for your hunger, praying that you get fed good spiritual meals. In fact, my prayer is that you'll get so fed tonight that you'll have spiritual indigestion and you'll be burping up Scriptures all week. They'll come to mind; they'll come to mind; they'll come to mind and carry you through the week.
These guys are hungry. They need a meal and so Dad's gonna speak. Verse 3: "But Judah spoke to him, saying, "The man solemnly warned us, saying, 'You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.' If you send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food. But if you will not send him, we will not go down; for the man said to us, 'You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.'" And Israel," that's Jacob but he was renamed, if you recall, "Said, "Why did you deal so wrongfully with me as to tell the man whether you had still another brother?" What is this guy Eeyore or what? He plays the same note over and over again. It's all about me. It's all about me. Do you remember what he said when we covered our last chapter, chapter 42 at the end? You know he said, oh, when he found this out, oh, he said, all things are against me! All things are against me! Boy he couldn't be further from the truth. Were all things against him? Was God doing this because God was against him? No. All things were for him, man. He was about to get blessed beyond his wildest dreams and have more food than he could eat and have a place where his children and children's children could branch out and grow and flourish. The Bible says if God is for us, who can be against us? All things are against me! Oh you have no clue, dude. You are so blind. You are so myopic. All things are for you and you can't realize it. And here he is again, Mr. Eeyore the Donkey, all things are against me. And suggesting to his brothers basically, well why did you tell them the truth? Why didn't you just lie and say nope. we don't have any more brothers. He's a scoundrel.
He has two flaws. He's blind to his own favoritism. Most parents that favor a child over another are often blind to it. he was blind to Joseph's treatment. He treated him so royally. He gave him that beautiful colored garment and didn't make him go work in the fields like he made his other brothers work in the field. In fact, he had the little kid Joseph supervise his brothers. And he just sort of sent them out. He'd go, go spy on your brothers and see how they are! That's blind. Also, he made so much of mourning for Joseph that he was just hard to deal with. Hey, you gotta give these boys some credit. They did go down to Egypt last time. They did get grain. They did risk their lives. He's playing that same old note. "But they said," verse 7, "the man asked us pointedly about ourselves and our family, saying, 'Is your father still alive? Have you another brother?' And we told him according to these words. Could we possibly have known that he would say, 'Bring your brother down'?" Then Judah said to Israel his father, "Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones. I myself will be surety for him; from my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever. For if we had not lingered, surely by now we would have returned this second time." You know, we've been sitting around, Dad, this whole time. We should've gone a long time ago.
Now surety, you see that little word let me be surety? That's a legal contractual term. It means let me be the guarantor. I will guarantee this. It typically referred to somebody who would guarantee a loan and cover somebody's debt. Here it simply means I'll care for him. I'll care for him and I'll care for him in that I'll become the substitute if something happens. Now just keep this in mind that Judah is willing to become a substitute for his brothers. I'm gonna tie up a little end together and connect a couple of dots in just a little bit. Well that's what he promises. Ok pause for a moment. Think back to last Bible study in Genesis. It was the oldest, Reuben, who made a pledge to his father. Do you remember that? Remember that crazy, stupid thing he said? He said look it. I'll go down and, you know, I'll watch little Benjamin and if I don't bring him back alive then you can just kill my two boys. That's what he said. His dad just completely blew it off, disregarded it completely. Why? Because it was as if he was saying Reuben, I'll never trust you again with one of my little sons. You were the oldest. You are the oldest. You were really responsible for Joseph in the wilderness. Look what happened to him. I'm not gonna trust you. Now here is Judah and Judah is offering to be surety for him and his dad's gonna take him up on that.
In Genesis chapter 49, you'll get to it, but here's just a little teaser. When Jacob's on his deathbed, he says of his son Reuben: Reuben, you are my firstborn, unstable as water, you shall not excel. Unstable as water. You're not trustworthy. You say one thing, you don't follow through. I don't trust you. You will not excel. That was the prediction. Those are some pretty heavy last words for your dad to say. Judah, on the other hand, he was a scoundrel, too. But I submit to you that Judah has changed, or at least is in the process of changing. 21 years have gone since what happened to Joseph happened. Many years have passed since the incident in chapter 34 with Tamar, getting his own daughter-in-law pregnant and, we saw, this guy was a mess. But he's changing and he's changing in the area of relationships and I think you'll see it tonight. He's grown relationally. Verse 11: "And their father Israel said to them, "If it must be so, then do this: Take some of the best fruits of the land in your vessels and carry down a present for the man--a little balm and a little honey," probably it was date honey not honey like we know it. It's the extract of dates. They sell it over in the Jordan River area even to this day. Bring with you "spices and myrrh, pistachio nuts and almonds." I'm salivating in my heart even as I say them. I've never had better pistachios in my life than the ones that come from the Middle East, the area of Israel and Lebanon, even Jordan. Oh man they're big honking ones like Schwarzenegger grew them or something--they're just big and juicy.
Now it would seem, there's a famine in the land, but it seems that there are some staple items in Israel that are unaffected by the famine and he's saying take some of these as a gift. There's a proverb that talks about gift-giving, that giving a gift opens a door and puts you in front of great rulers. It's just a good thing to do. you're gonna go see someone? Give them a little token. Oh well thank you, come on in--it just disarms a person. So go back down and buy grain, but give him a gift as well. Then verse 12: "Take double money in your hand, and take back in your hand the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks;" if you remember last week's study, "perhaps it was an oversight. Take your brother also, and arise, go back to the man. And may God almighty give you mercy before the man," notice what they're calling Joseph: he the man. He's the man. He's the ruler. "That he may release your other brother," that's Simeon, who's hostage, "and Benjamin." Now listen to this: "If I am bereaved, I am bereaved!" Now he's thinking logically. Now he realizes if we sit here and do nothing, we're gonna die. If we go down to Egypt, we may die, we may not die. But if we just do nothing, we will die. So it's worth the risk. This is a necessary risk. It has to be taken. Something I just want to make a little note of. I don't want to push too much into the text but just note what a control freak Jacob is. Tells them what to do, what to take, how to lay it all out. I mean, these guys aren't little kids. They're older men. They can handle this. They could've gotten this job done sooner. But Jacob... wants to control everything. It would drive me nuts.
Second thing to notice is he doesn't say take my son, he says take your brother. Why would he say that? Why wouldn't he say take my son? My favorite son? Take your brother. He's impressing upon them the relationship they have, thus the responsibility to care for him. He's your own flesh and blood! You take care of him. The third thing to make note of is what he calls God. God Almighty. El Shaddai is the word. El Shaddai in Hebrew. God Almighty or Almighty God. May He be with you. We've discovered already in Genesis that's an important designation. First time it appears is chapter 17 when God introduces Himself to Abram as God Almighty, El Shaddai, man I can do anything. I can cover you, Abram. Just trust Me. I'm Almighty God. The second time it appears is in chapter 28, I believe, verse 3, when Isaac says to Jacob, now Jacob says it the third time, his father said it the second time. That's what he remembered. When he was leaving, going to Uncle Laban's, his dad gave him a charge: may God Almighty bless you and cause you to prosper and multiply. It's something he never forgot. So here's the charge to his sons, calling God the mighty One. He's gonna protect you. He says if I am bereaved, I am bereaved. Verse 15: "So the men took that present and Benjamin, and they took double money in their hand, and arose and went down to Egypt; and they stood before Joseph. Now probably Joseph has been wondering: are they coming back for Simeon? They gonna abandon him? It's been a long time. They abandoned me. They might just abandon him. And will they bring little Benji back? How have they treated Benjamin? Is he even still alive? Have they rubbed him out, too, like they tried to do to me? Well that's the predicament in Canaan.
Now we go to the party in Egypt. Verse 16: "When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, "Take these men to my home, and slaughter an animal." In other words, let's throw a party and make it a barbeque party. "Make ready; for these men will dine with me at noon." Let's do lunch, guys. "Then the man did as Joseph ordered," the man being the steward of the house, "and the man brought the men into Joseph's house." Let's connect a couple dots. See the word steward? It's a synonym with the chief butler. Remember in chapter 38 the chief butler and the chief baker of Pharaoh were kept in prison? Joseph has his own chief butler. He's the steward. He's in charge of all the finances. He's the confidant of Joseph. He would be a mediator in certain cases. He was the guy in charge of all of the servants' staff--that's the steward or the chief butler. "Now the men were afraid." Ok, ok. Just, now, remember last week, remember last week when Joseph put their money back in their sacks and they opened it up and they were scared to death. So now again they come and Joseph says, men, am I glad to see you guys! Let's do lunch! Come to my house! Their reaction? So the men were afraid. "Because they were brought into Joseph's house; and they said, "It's because of the money, which was returned in our sacks the first time, that we are brought in, so that he may make a case against us and [fall upon us], to take us as slaves with our donkeys."
A few years ago, I was invited to the White House--several years ago. What an honor. I remember getting the invitation: You're invited to join a group of people and meet with the President of the United States and discuss this issue and... Now, when I got that invitation, I was, I was amped, I was geeked, I was stoked, I was excited. I didn't go oh no! What could he want? Their response is like they got called into the vice principal's office or something. You've been bad boys! We're gonna do lunch but not really. That's what they're thinking. Boy guilt has a way of ruining every joyful experience. It's their guilt. They're guilt-ridden because of what happened with Joseph. They never dealt with it. Joseph is forcing their hand to deal with it. Guilt ruins, it turns merriment into misery. Miserable bunch of guys. Oh no! What does he want? What now? What will happen to us? What will befall us? It's not a typical reaction like last week we saw that. In ancient times, if you were invited into somebody's house for a meal, it meant something more significant than today. In ancient Middle Eastern culture, for you to be invited into a house meant that you were now under the complete protection of the house in which you were invited. If there was any kind of an attack on you, they would fight to the death for you. You're their honored guest. They take hospitality very seriously because they see the meal as becoming one with a person. You see, if I have a meal and I eat part of it and you eat part of it, we're essentially becoming one with each other. I'm eating this and it's nourishing me and it will break down in my body and it will become part of my cellular structure--same with you. So, in essence, by the meal we're becoming one. It's what Jesus meant when He said behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man will hear My voice and open the door, I will come in and have a meal with him. Sup with him. Dine with him.
But, as we see, guilt ruined it. The best thing for your mental health is to get your guilt alleviated. Guilt will wreak havoc on your mental health. The best thing is to get your guilt alleviated. That's the purpose of the cross. Now guilt is good. I know that there are leaders today, so-called spiritual leaders today and psychology experts, that say guilt is bad. I beg strongly to differ. Guilt is good. Very good--if it drives you to the place where you get it alleviated, dealt with, taken care off--and then you move on. If you live under the weight of it, it's not good. If it drives you to the place where you get rid of it, it is good. And so guilt should drive us to the cross to get forgiveness, then we move on. I'm a child of God. I've been forgiven. I confess my sin. I go for it. These guys are bound by guilt. "When they drew near," verse 19, "to the steward of Joseph's house, they talked with him at the door of the house." Now in a situation like that you look for a mediator really quick because they think they're gonna die so they're looking for a mediator. And a steward often was a mediator between the ruler and anyone else. "And they said, "O sir, we indeed came down the first time to buy food; but it happened, when we came to the encampment, that we opened our sacks, and there, each man's money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in full weight; so we have brought it back in our hand. And we have brought down other money in our hands to buy food. We do not know who put our money in our sacks."
So can you picture them standing there sweat beading down their furrowed, guilt-ridden brows? Trying to schmooze this guy and say look! It's not our fault, man, the money was there and here it is and we brought more. "But he said [the steward said], "Peace be with you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks; I had your money." Then he brought Simeon out to them." I have a thought. I have a hunch. I can't prove it but, with this verse, it lends a little bit of weight to my theory. Could it be that Joseph in Egypt who believed in one God, he was a monotheist, we see that in his record all throughout, that he even evangelized those in Egypt? And gave glory, not to the polytheistic, not to the many gods, not to the pantheon of Egypt, but to the one true and living God? And this steward seems like he was affected, for he said your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks. This is God's work; I had your money. Ok so then also in verse 23 he brought Simeon out to them. Boy to Simeon those guys were a sight for sore eyes. He's thinking dude, why did you abandon me? Why did you wait so long? So Simeon evidently has been in jail for some time. Question: did that imprisonment change Simeon? It changed Joseph. It made him better. Well I don't think it did. I don't think it did because once again, in Genesis 49, when Jacob, the old man, is on his deathbed and he's talking about his boys, he sums up the life of Simeon. He says Simeon and Levi, you are brothers, instruments of cruelty, cursed be your anger and your wrath for it is cruel and it is fierce. Now he was talking about their treachery back in chapter 34. It was those two guys, Simeon and Levi, who killed Hamor and his son Shechem, and then they killed all those Shechemites, remember that story? It seemed that that incident sort of followed him through without change.
So here's my point: it's really a shame if painful, hurtful times don't serve to change you. Because then all you look back on is, that was horrible. That hurt. And? Well... and? Umm... I didn't like it. And? And it was really bad. No. Not the right answer. That's a shame. If you didn't learn something from it and grow through it, if you didn't let it change you, what a wasted opportunity. See God wouldn't allow that to come into your life unless He wants to teach you a lesson and change you. What did you learn from it? Do you know, by the way, that's the emphasis of James when he writes about trials? Most people when they quote the verse I'm gonna quote completely disregard that. Here's the verse. James says in chapter 1: if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God who gives liberally and He won't abrade but He will give. You know what that's in reference to? Hardship, suffering, trials. Here's the context: Brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work that you may be complete and entire, lacking nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God. You see, the context is referring to asking God for wisdom when you're in the midst of trials. Lord, what is this about? What are You trying to teach me? God forbid that you wouldn't do that and it would be an opportunity that is a wasted one. Find out what God's trying to show you and learn from it.
Verse 24: "So the man brought the men," the man brought the men, that is, the steward brought Joseph's brothers, all ten of them, "into Joseph's house and gave them water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their donkeys feed. Then they made the present ready for Joseph's coming at noon, for they heard that they would eat bread there. And when Joseph came home, they brought him the present which was in their hand into the house, and bowed down before him to the earth." Now that's the second time they bowed. We saw last week the first time. Again, Joseph would be thinking about those little dreams he had when he was a little kid. And one was all the sheaves were bowing down and the brothers said you little whippersnapper, you think we're ever gonna bow down to you? Well this is the second time they bowed down to the earth. Egyptian tombs are filled with hieroglyphics. You probably already know that. Imagery and a lot of the imagery shows people bowing down. Common people and rulers bowing down to Pharaoh. There's even an inscription in archeological dig called the Amarna tablets from the 14th century BC that shows the protocol for how to bow down to an Egyptian ruler. To a pharaoh, one was to bow down seven times facing one direction and then seven times backwards. Seven times forward; seven times backward when addressing a pharaoh. That was the protocol. Now he wasn't the pharaoh. Joseph was the prime minister, second-in-command, so probably just a common courtesy bow all the way down to the ground. He was royalty, after all, but fulfilling prophecy.
Verse 27: "Then he asked them about their well-being," isn't that great? He's the ruler! How are you guys doing? Not like why have you come? I am the Great Oz! Just how are you? How's it been going for you guys? "And [he] said, "Is your father well"? How is the old man? Oh he actually says that, "The old man of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?" And they answered, "Your servant our father is in good health; he is still alive." And they bowed their heads down and prostrated themselves. Then he lifted his eyes and saw his brother," Benji. Benjamin. Son of my right hand, Jacob called him. His mother's son. "And said, "Is this your younger brother of whom you spoke to me?" And he said, "God be gracious to you, my son." See the last time Joseph saw Benji, he was just a toddler. Now Benjamin's about 23 years old. It'd been a long time. He sees him. He recognizes him. Benjamin was Joseph's full brother. The rest of the guys were only half-brothers. They were brothers of another mother, right? He had, Jacob had four wives. But Benjamin and Joseph shared the same mother and father. They had full blood relations and Joseph longed to see him. It's interesting that Joseph remembered well his past. You know, there's a, there's a saying, an ancient saying, about Egypt. The Egyptians used to say this: anyone who comes to Egypt and drinks of the Nile River will soon forget his native land. In other words, it's so beautiful down here, we've irrigated this and we've got everything, you won't even want to go back home. Not with Joseph. Joseph will want to be buried back home in Canaan. Take my bones up from here, he will say. He remembers his brothers. He remembers his home. And he remembers his God. He's excited to have this reunion.
But as much as he remembered his past, there's something he chose to forget. Remember what that was? He chose to forget the pain of the past. All of the emotional pain. He didn't harbor a grudge. He didn't nurse a grudge. He chose to forget the emotional pain that he had gone through for 21 years. You remember that. He called his firstborn son Amnesia, right? Manasseh means forgetful. Amnesia. Because he said God made me forget all of the pain, all of the agony, all of the hardships. So he remembered and longed for relations with his family but he forgot the emotional. He chose to. Verse 30, I love this: "Now his heart yearned for his brother." King James Version says his bowels did yearn upon his brother. Isn't that lovely? Try that sometime when you meet somebody you haven't seen them for a long time. My bowels have been yearning for you all day long. No I suggest that you don't. But the modern equivalent of that would be his heart went out, his heart went out to him. He churned or burned inside. His heart went out for him. He was moved emotionally. He yearned for his brother. "So Joseph made haste and sought somewhere to weep. And he went into his chamber and wept there." He said excuse me, I've got an emergency phone call, I'll be right back. He wept--such a tender heart--and he came back. He washed his face, verse 31, came out, he restrained himself and he said, "Serve the bread."
Now they've gotta be in shock because the first time they came to Joseph, man, he was put off. He was angry toward them and rough toward them and now he's saying come on, dig in, let's have a meal. Grab a bite. "So they set him in a place by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves;" they had three different tables because, it says, "the Egyptians could not eat food with the Hebrews." You go why is that? It says, "For that is an abomination to the Egyptians." That's a little historical footnote to tell you there was a caste system in ancient Egypt. The Egyptians, it says it was an abomination to eat with the Hebrews. Did you know that the ancient Egyptians believed that everyone else on earth who wasn't an Egyptian was a barbarian? Would not even eat a meal with anyone else. That's how they felt. You go well that's sort of narrow-minded. Yep. The Greeks also said the same thing and felt the same way. A lot of people groups, see prejudice is an old, old issue. But there's something more. There's something more because, you see, the Hebrews were shepherds. They were shepherds. And you're gonna read in chapter 46 that, it says this: every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians. You're thinking I still don't quite get it. Why? Here's perhaps why, I believe. There had been a dynasty ruling in Egypt prior to Joseph called the Hyskos Dynasty. Some of you may have read about that or heard about it. H-Y-S-K-O-S. Hyskos Dynasty. It was a dynasty; it was a group of nomadic shepherds that got together, fought against Egypt, conquered Egypt, burned a lot of the Egyptian cities, ruled in power for a number of years. They had a dynasty. They had a succession of people who ruled called the Hyskos kings. They were shepherd kings. It is believed that Egypt, the Egyptians, the native population, finally overthrew the Hyskos Dynasty just prior to Joseph entering Egypt. So they hated shepherds. They hated... because they saw shepherds, you're roaming around, you have no home, no stable life, you're sort of mooching off other people's lands, letting your sheep eat wherever they can find green grass and drink wherever they can find a well. They're irresponsible. They're thieves. I have an interesting story. In Israel there's a group called Bedouins. And Bedouins have a reputation. They're people of the land. They, they have flocks and they're nomadic. They travel around from place to place. They live in tents. But they're also known as fierce warriors and when a Bedouin goes bad, he goes really bad. I remember one time I was in Israel, I was living on the beach at that time, sleeping down in a lot, down on the beach, and everybody warned me: you gotta watch out for the Bedouins. There's a lot of thieves around here, but the Bedouin thieves--they're the worst. Ok, thanks. So we slept with our backpack under our head or close to us, right at our side. The next morning, we woke up and my friend, he was a doctor, we were traveling around Israel together, his backpack was found about 50 feet away from where we were sleeping and somebody in the night saw Bedouin robbers taking things from different people on the beach. They took his knapsack, knifed it open, took the stuff, wallet, money, traveler's checks, passport, everything. And then they said to us boy you were lucky because typically they'll knife you and then take your backpack. So it's interesting that some of the nomadic groups still have that kind of a reputation by many of the people of that land. Just a personal story. I thought about it when I read it.
Verse 33: "And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth; and the men looked in astonishment at one another. Then he took servings to them from before him, but Benjamin's serving was five times as much as any of theirs." You gotta love that! What are they doing? What is Joseph doing? Testing them: the test of jealousy. They passed the test of sincerity--this is the test of jealousy. They were so jealous of him with that really cool robe that he had 21 years ago, what will they think if I show favor to the youngest, the favorite son now, of their father? That was the test. "So they drank and [they] were merry with him." Ok, the first thing to notice is that Joseph arranged them in perfect chronological order according to their birth order. That's why they looked in astonishment at one another, like how did he know? How could he know exactly know... when you get to an age, they look, they're very similar, many of them, in age. In perfect birth order. Little red light--ding--should go off. Hmm. They looked with astonishment. Ok, then they, he gave Benjamin five times as much. That wasn't unusual. Guests of honor were typically given a larger portion. Did you know that the ancient Spartans would give double the portion to a guest of honor? The ancient Cretans used to give guests of honor four times the normal serving. Four times. That, when I read that, I laughed because, if you remember, Paul wrote to Titus and said, you know, Cretans are evil beasts and lazy gluttons. Wherefore rebuke them sharply. They just like to eat all day long. Well Joseph, the ruler of Egypt, outdid them and gave five times the amount. Five times the amount. It was a test. Let's see how they do with it, how they pass. It says they drank and they were merry with him. Yeah, they're happy because Joseph is taking a liking to Benjamin... it's a good sign. Now we're gonna get through this unscathed. They're just so happy now. They're having a party. They're having a meal.
Well their merriment will soon because there's still another test. They passed the first one. They passed the second one. The third test is the test of charity. How much do they really love that boy and how much do they really love their father? So now we get to chapter 44 and we have ten minutes to cover part of it. Here's the third division from a predicament in Canaan to a party in Egypt to now penitence or repentance in the heart of these men. "And he commanded the steward of his house, saying, "Fill the men's sacks with food, [take] as much as they can carry," now watch this, "and put each man's money in the mouth of his sack." It's a rerun. Take two. "Also put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest," Benjamin, "and his grain money." So he did according to the word that Joseph had spoken." Now that cup is a prop. It's part of the test. The test of love. The test of charity. It's a prop. Most ancient cups were clay. If you had a silver goblet, you were somebody special. He did. He was prime minister. "As soon as the morning dawned, the men were sent away, they and their donkeys. When they had gone out of the city, and were not yet far off, Joseph said to his steward, "Get up, follow the men; and when you overtake them, say to them, 'Why have you repaid evil for good? Is not this one from which my lord drinks, and with which he indeed practices divination? You have done evil in so doing.'" So he overtook them, and he spoke to them these same words. And they said to him, "Why does my lord say these words? Far be it from us that your servants should do such a thing. Look, we brought back to you from the land of Canaan the money which we found in the mouth of our sacks. How then could we steal silver or gold from your lord's house?" And it's true. They didn't steal it. They don't know what's up. Now, now listen to this--foolish. "With whomever of your servants it is found, let him die," gosh, they like to say that, "and we also will be my lord's slaves." Remember that Scripture in James? Let every man be slow to speak. Slow to wrath, quick to listen. Think before you speak. Don't make a promise. Go slow on the promise. They were quick to speak. In Proverbs, it tells us death and life are in the power of the tongue. Or as I like to say, a closed mouth gathers no feet. You don't want to say something and just put your foot in your mouth. Let him die and we'll all be your slaves. Really? "And he said, "Now also let it be according to your words; he with whom it is found shall be my slave, and you shall be blameless. Then each man speedily let down his sack to the ground, and each opened his sack. So he searched."
Now watch this: "He began with the oldest and left off with the youngest," again, in perfect chronological birth order. "And the cup was found in Benjamin's sack." Started with the oldest, went to the next, and the next. Why? To heighten the tension. It adds to the tension. Go through one set, nothing here, go through the next guy, nothing here, next guy... pretty soon they're gonna look at each other like, see? What'd I tell you? You see this is stupid. You don't have to look in our sacks--we're clean. Let it go. And they're getting more relieved and more relieved until they get to the last sack. And it says, "The cup was found in Benjamin's sack." Wow. Why did Joseph do that? He wants to see their reaction of having another brother as a slave down in Egypt. That's what they did the first time. They sold him to the Israelites, Joseph as a slave. Ok, I'm gonna do this with this child. He's gonna be a slave in Egypt. Have you changed from 21 years ago? How do you feel about that? Will you go cool--let us go--see ya? We'll make up a stupid story. We'll run to Daddy and say yeah, it's really weird but a beast got him, too. All part of a test. Verse 13 indicates they're passing the test: "[So] they tore their clothes, and each man loaded his donkey and returned to the city." This is the first sign that they had changed. For, you see, to tear one's clothes is a sign of deep remorse and regret. When Jacob had heard that Joseph had been torn by beasts, he tore his clothes. When Job heard that his children were killed by the Chaldeans, he tore his robe. Still in Israel today, I have a good friend who's an Orthodox Jew and his dad died and he heard about and he took his shirt and he tore it. It's a symbol of respect. It's a symbol of grief. And it's a sign that these guys are changing.
"So Judah and his brothers came to Joseph's house, and he was still there; and they fell before him on the ground," again bowing to him, "Joseph said to them, "What deed is this you have done? Did you not know that such a man as I can certainly practice divination?" I think I need to explain that. In certain cultures, ancient cultures, there was a practice called hydromancy. Hydromancy was the prediction of the future using fluid inside a cup. Just like in some Oriental cultures, they'll look at tea leaves on the bottom and they'll see the pattern of the tea leaves and read the leaves. In some ancient cultures like the Greeks, they would take melted wax and pour it into water in a cup and the patterns would be read, interpreted by the viewer and he would predict the future. In Egyptian cups, in the inside, there were engravings--magical inscriptions, some of the gods were depicted, and the light would reflect off of the image and onto the fluid and they would read the dancing patterns on the fluid. Now there is no Scripture that tells us that Joseph ever practiced that himself. There's never an indication or an experience that says Joseph did that. He is simply asking them a question, saying, "Did you not know that such a man as I can certainly practice divination?" I don't think he did. First of all, he didn't need to. The guy was a prophet. God--he could read dreams. He could interpret dreams. He could tell what God was gonna do in the future by a supernatural gift. He didn't need to fall back on that and there's no indication that he did.
"Then Judah said, "What shall we say to my lord? What shall we speak? Or how shall we clear ourselves? God has found out the iniquity of your servants; here we are, my lord's slaves, both we and he also with whom the cup was found." No excuses. No story. No attempt to cover up what happened two years ago. What he's saying is you know what? We're busted. And this is payback time. God's paying us back big time from what happened 21 years ago. You see, Judah wasn't going to abandon Benjamin like he abandoned Joseph. Judah, as I mentioned, has changed. But he said, he said, Joseph said, "Far be it from me that I should do so; the man in whose hand the cup was found, he shall be my slave. And as for you, go up in peace to your father." Yeah. Right. Like that's ever gonna happen, right? Can you imagine them going back without Benjamin? Hey Dad, uh, I hate to tell you this but, uh, he's a slave. They're not going back, right? They've been there; done that. They're not going back. They're not going to abandon him. Now verse 18 through the rest of the chapter is one of the most heartwarming, touching, intercessory speeches in all of literature. In fact, Sir Walter Scott, the great Scottish poet and novelist, said that in all of literature, this section is one of the most beautiful examples of natural eloquence to be found anywhere. As Judah says to Pharaoh the words that he says, coming clean in total repentance and lays it all out, but unfortunately we're gonna have to wait until next week to read it because the time is up.