GENESIS 43:1 – 45:28 and MATTHEW 12:1–21
In verses 1-14 we see the account of the planned return to Egypt. It was not an immediate return as seen in the usage of the provision when they came back from their first trip (vs 2). Jacob was still reluctant in allowing Benjamin to go with them. Now it is Judah that is making the appeal to his father. He insists that they must return with Benjamin. He accepts responsibility for anything that might happen (vs 8-9). Finally, Jacob relents by committing extra gifts (vs 11-12) as well as the release of Benjamin. This was a tremendous price being exacted upon Israel. (Jacob) We can be very much like Jacob in this instance. We hold on to something that is valuable and precious in lieu of committing and letting something go as an offering unto the Lord.
Dr. Brian Bailey often told the account of not being able to commit his wife to the Lord until he was in a position of total helplessness. The Lord asked him the question as to who is in a better position to look after her. It was at this moment he released her to the Lord. Jacob came to a new place of consecration. It was an offering that the Lord required. In the natural he was facing the loss of all things; his beloved wife Rachel, his son Joseph (through Rachel) who was presumed dead. Now he was committing the last link to Rachel by way of allowing Benjamin to go to Egypt with the brethren. He was possibly looking at the loss of all things.
In verses 24-34 the brothers give an account to Joseph concerning the situation with their father. It is here where Joseph meets Benjamin and becomes overwhelmed with emotion. I would like to take note of the last verse where we see Benjamin being given 5 times the amount of provision than the others. Why is this so? It could well be that Joseph is testing his brothers to see how they respond. No doubt he remembered their reaction when he was given the dreams as the younger brother and the anger and resentment that came upon him as a result. Would there be a similar display of envy and jealousy? It’s clear that something has changed in his brothers and it is all for the better. Gen 43 in many ways is a test of both Jacob and his sons. Jacob loved Rachel and went to great lengths to obtain her in marriage. (Gen 29:18 And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.)
She was continually the object of all that mattered most to him. In allowing Benjamin to go to Egypt he was in affect releasing every link that applied to her. The brothers were tested in their willingness to stand in the gap and take responsibility for Benjamin as Reuben and Judah did. Secondly, there was no hint of envy or jealousy when they saw the treatment being placed upon Benjamin. The ways of God are truly amazing.
The brothers received their large portion of food and began their return to Jacob in Canaan. For all they knew this was the end of this saga. The link of Joseph being restored to his brothers and father was going to be through Benjamin. Why is Joseph prolonging this matter? God is clearly orchestrating things through Joseph for the purpose of forgiveness and repentance to be realized. Remember, Joseph has to be able to forgive for all that was done to him through his brothers. The main dialogue in this chapter is between Judah and Joseph. This is after Joseph’s silver cup was packed in Benjamin’s bag. The fruit of this incident is the response of Judah when he realizes he may fail in bringing back Benjamin to his father. He goes to great lengths to explain to Joseph the background of family matters, especially as it pertained to Benjamin and his father. He also refers to the loss of Joseph in this narrative (vs 27-28). Judah is willing to stand in the gap for Benjamin. Judah had opportunity to express this sentiment to both Jacob his father (43:9) and to Joseph (44:32). Joseph can well see that Judah and his brothers have changed. God allowed for these circumstances to take place to give opportunity for repentance to have its work. God could forgive the brothers for what they did but the events of the last few chapters allowed for the fruits of repentance to be realized. David, when he sinned in the matter of Bathsheba, was forgiven for what he did but there was a price to pay. This should serve as an example and model for us. What about Joseph? He had to come to a place where he could forgive his brothers.
The events of the past few chapters allowed for him to hear what had transpired in the years since his abandonment. If Joseph could forgive his brothers after being left for dead, then what about us? The subject of forgiveness is oftentimes not properly understood. Think of forgiveness like being a garment; it is something that can be put on (Col 3:12-13). One of the biggest plagues in the church today is unforgiveness. It can be a hidden cancer that goes undetected while the life of the church carries on. It reflects an unresolved issue in the heart. It has been said that true forgiveness is rooted in forgetfulness. Interestingly, one of the names of Joseph’s son is Manasseh. His name means (to forget). I feel that Joseph epitomises forgiveness more than any other Bible figure. (With the exception of the Lord) Let me try to develop what I consider to be a powerful truth regarding the subject of forgiveness. It can be complicated but I will try to simplify.
* (Math 18:21-22) This is where Peter asks the question as to how many times we should forgive.
* Jesus responds by saying 70 times 7. (The sum of this number is 490 and it has precedent)
* Dan 9:24 mentions 70 weeks. 70 times 7 = 490 (70 weeks to finish the transgression and the end of sin)
* The 70 weeks are divided into three periods. (62 weeks, 7 weeks and 1 week)
* After 69 weeks Messiah is cut off. (Dan 9:24-26)
* Between vs 26-27 is a gap of about 2000 years. (The “he” mentioned refers to the antichrist)
* There is yet 1 week that needs to be reconciled from above. (7 year tribulation period in vs 27)
* Jesus said to forgive 70 times 7. I believe that he may have been referring to the prophecy in Daniel 9.
* After the 69th week, Jesus finished the work at the Cross. One of His final words upon the Cross was “Father FORGIVE them” (Luk 23:34)
* Since 70 weeks finishes the transgression it signifies the importance of FORGIVENESS for us
We can learn many lessons from Joseph but perhaps one of the most important is that of forgiveness.
This chapter is a beautiful portrait of restoration. This story should encourage any of us who are going through periods of strained family relations. Can it get much worse than what was seen in this account of Joseph and his brothers? One can only imagine the joy and sense of exhilaration for all the participants in this story from Jacob right on down to Benjamin. You can even include Pharaoh and his contingent who took great pleasure in all that was transpiring. One of the promises that God gave Jacob as his name was changed to Israel was that he would gain authority and favour with both God and man (Gen 32:28). Here we see its fulfilment. Joseph as his offspring gained favour but at the end of Jacob’s life we see that he too is honoured. I feel to focus in two verses that I feel summarises this chapter and this wonderful story.
Gen 45:7 And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
Gen 45:8 So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.
We are all familiar with Rom 8:28.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Don’t forget the last portion of the above verse. Who are called, according to His purpose. The events of Joseph going to Egypt via abandonment and imprisonment were ordained by God. It was the continuing fulfilment of what God had spoken to Abraham (Gen 15:13). We cannot glibly apply Rom 8:28 to just any situation. It is to those who love God, and are called to His purpose. Now, when the brothers left Joseph abandoned by the roadside they could not say “well Joseph, don’t worry, everything works for good.” Joseph was an innocent but it’s clear that he did not have an understanding of how God would work his various dilemmas for good. The point is that God did indeed work all of it for good. Joseph was able to forgive and he was witness to the change in his brother’s attitude and demeanour resulting in his statement that it was God who sent him to Egypt and not his brethren.
Think of how his brothers must have felt after hearing this statement. Sure, they were sorely sorry for what they did to Joseph but they can be free knowing that Joseph had indeed forgiven them. This is what forgiveness can do. Not only will it allow for us to see the purposes of God in a bigger way it allows for those who are forgiven to be totally free themselves. The brothers needed to bring forth fruits for repentance and Joseph needed to truly forgive. The above accounts indicate that both were realized.
We are soon entering the last week of the seventy referred to in Daniel 9. Yes, Jesus died at the conclusion of the 69th week. Yes, He destroyed sin and brought forth forgiveness. Yet, the Bible makes clear that 70 weeks have been determined and it is pointing directly to our generation. May God work within each of us the ability to say to any who would come against us “Father forgive them…” May we also be those who have the ability to bring forth fruits meet for repentance. The account of Joseph and his brothers helps to show forth the way. God does work all things together for good.
A final thought regarding the feast and famine contrasts as seen in the story of Joseph. I feel there will be a similar scenario that will play out in these last days. It will play out differently due to the interconnected globalized world we live in. A news event occurred within the past day that to me has huge significance; yet is finding little news headlines. The Swiss government has taken the decision to delink its currency (the franc) from the Euro. Ok, big deal, what does that have to do with anything? Within minutes of this announcement the franc currency gained 30 percent in value while the Euro plummeted. In less than a day, two forex exchanges, Alpari forex in Germany, and FXCM based in the USA had to suspend trading due to losses in the 100s of millions as a result of the Swiss announcement. They are now seeking cash infusions to get back into operation as quickly and clandestinely as possible. The feasting and good time life that the world has been enjoying is showing signs of about to change. The wild daily swings in market averages coupled with plunging oil prices makes for a volatile and fragile economic system. We must be vigilant and watchful and have the preparatory wisdom that Joseph exhibited at this unique moment in history. It is about to repeat itself.
In verses 1-8 we see the religious order taking issue with Jesus and His disciples for the plucking and eating of corn on the Sabbath day. Jesus addresses this plainly when stating that a greater than the “temple” is here. (vs 6) In the days of Jeremiah the people and priests put great stock in the temple of God as a ritual more than its intended meaning.
Jer 7:4 Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these.
They were putting their tradition over what the Lord was speaking to them through Jeremiah. He was reminding them as to what happened at Shiloh when Israel put their trust in tradition over the Word of the Lord.
Jer 7:12 But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel.
What happened at Shiloh? Israel lost the battle against the Philistines but worse still, they lost the Ark. (1 Sam 4-5). What was Jeremiah speaking? Israel, because of its idolatry was going to be subject to Babylon for a period of 70 years. (Jer 25:11-12, 29:10) Here you have the Lord in their midst yet many are still holding to tradition and legalism, missing the season of His visitation. It’s no wonder that the Lord later wept over the city when He saw how they missed their opportunity. (Luk 19:41-44)
In verses 9-13 we the Lord healing a man with a withered hand but again it’s on the Sabbath day. It seems like the Lord is going right after their religiosity. Here we have a man miraculously healed but it does not matter to these men. They would rescue their livestock if they were suffering on the Sabbath but would not give the same concern to a fellow man. (vs 11-12)
In verses 14-21 we see the Pharisee’s going about to form a council regarding this matter so as to destroy Him. It is here where you see the issue of the heart revealed. As religious people they should have the concerns of their fellow man as one of their primary objectives. What was at stake here was not the breaking of tradition but the loss of power and influence. While they went about seeking how to destroy Jesus, the crowds and multitudes went after Jesus. He continued to heal those who were in need. This was a season in His ministry where He moved in healing, signs and wonders. Jesus instructed those following Him to not make a scene but rather go their way quietly. But how could they? Jesus referred to an Old Testament verse that spoke concerning Him. (Isa 42:1-3) As believer’s we should never, ever seek to draw attention to ourselves, even if God were to use us in signs and wonders. Jesus realized that this could result in an over-emphasis of the miraculous at the expense of the “true message”.
In verse 22-37 we see a miracle followed by a stern rebuke of Jesus against those who were challenging the source of His power. Things here were coming to a head. Jesus healed a person who was possessed to the amazement of those gathered. They correctly surmised that he was the Son of David. (vs 23) The Pharisees, with their prestige and authority now under threat, make the charge that the source of His power was that of the devil. (vs 24) Jesus further adds that power that is attributed to Satan regarding the forgiveness of sins as opposed to that of the Holy Spirit is an unpardonable offense.
There is much dialogue that can be discussed concerning this matter but let’s consider one point. In the last days there will be a duality of supernatural manifestations. Satan throughout scripture seeks to replicate the things of God. You see this with the tree of knowledge of good and evil in Gen 3:6. Everything Satan offers to Eve is something that God is affording to man; a tree to make one wise, a tree that can allow us to become like God Himself. These are attributes that God does have for man but it has to be on His terms and according to His Laws. That is why discernment is so needed especially in these last days. In Revelation 13 you have the unholy trinity on display. The dragon (Satan) is seen in verse 2. He gives power unto the beast (antichrist) as seen in verses 1-2. You then have the false prophet who forces the worship of the beast as seen in verse 15. Don’t be surprised to see the power of God and the power of the enemy at work in the same revival or particular movement.
Remember when Moses and Aaron were before Pharaoh with his two magicians? (Jannes and Jambres in Exo 7:10-11) Two different anointing’s were at work at the same time and at the same place. (This may help us to understand some of the contradictions in the Lakeland Florida revival of 2008.) By the way, (other than the Sermon on the Mount) which temple or synagogue did Jesus do most of his teaching? It was at Herod’s temple. This is the same temple where all sorts of merchandising took place. The point being is that there will be much deception in the last days.
Jesus cut to the chase as the source of His power and anointing. To attribute it otherwise would be blasphemy. He digs down further by making clear that a tree is known of its fruit. The source of this good fruit is in the heart. Once again this is the picture of the New Covenant. (The law of God written upon the fleshly table of our heart)
Pro 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
In the balance of chapter 12, Jesus addresses the subject of those who seek for signs and wonders only. His response makes the point that it is an adulterous generation that seeks only after signs and wonders. He then points to the sign of Jonah. This is interesting because the sign of Jonah points clearly to the Cross. The remedy for an over-infatuation of the supernatural (which we see today) is the balance that the message of the Cross provides. Let us seek to be those who fulfil the closing verse of Math 12.
Mat 12:50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.