Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Genesis Chapter 44 ~ Judah's Substitution Part 2 & Joseph's Silver Cup Test

Genesis Chapter 44

Brothers Headed Home to Canaan
Joseph told the steward to fill the men's sacks with as much food as each man's sack could carry, and put the silver cup in the mount of the youngest one's, Benjamin's, sack (vs. 2). So he did it, and when morning came the men were sent back on their donkeys. They went a short distance from the city, and Joseph said to his steward, "Up, follow after the men, and when you overtake them, say to them, 'Why have you repaid evil for good? [Why have you stolen my silver cup?] Is it not from this that my lord drinks, and by this that he practices divination? You have done evil in doing this." (vs. 4-5) The steward did all of this, and they asked why he spoke to them this way. Then the brothers said, "Whichever of your servants is found with it shall die, and we also will be my lord's servants." (vs. 9) The steward said, "Let it be as you say: he who is found with it shall be my servant, and the rest of you shall be innocent." (vs. 10)

Alexander Ivanov, 1831-1833
Benjamin Has the Cup - Brothers Go Back to Egypt Again
Each opened their sack, and the cup was in Benjamin's sack, and they tore their clothes, and every man loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city (vs. 13). Joseph was still there when Judah and his brothers came to his house. Joseph said, "What deed is this that you have done? Do you not know that a man like me can indeed practice divination?" (vs. 15)
Arent de Gelder, c. 1682

Judah's Intercession
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." (vs. 16) Joseph responded that only the man who was found with the cup will be his servant, but the rest can go back to their father (vs. 17). 

Judah went up to Joseph 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." (vs. 18) Judah went on to tell him of his brother, and how dearly his father loves him, and that to not return Benjamin to their father would kill Jacob/Israel. He told him what Jacob said to him, "You know that my wife bore me two sons. One left me, and I said, 'Surely he has been torn to pieces,' and I have never seen him since. If you take this one also from me, and harm happens to him, you will bring down my gray hairs in evil to Sheol." (vs. 27-29) He explained that Jacobs life is bound up with Benjamin's life (vs. 30), and that he will die and he will descend to Sheol.

Judah described how he had pledged himself for the safety of Benjamin to Jacob by saying, "If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father all my life." (vs. 32) Then he asked Joseph to take him and let Benjamin go back with the brothers to Jacob, because he couldn't go back to his father if Benjamin was not with him. He explained, "I fear to see the evil that would find my father." (vs. 34)

Reflections on Genesis Chapter 44
Here Joseph, by referring to "divination" twice, seems to test their faith in God. Would his brothers trust Yahweh by faith over the pagan practices of who they thought to be an unbelieving Egyptian ruler? It doesn't seem that they fear Joseph's "divination" as much as they fear how Joseph's actions will turn out for their father, Jacob. Either way, by God's grace faith is exercised here, in one of the most unlikely of places, Judah.

We see Judah offering up himself as a substitute, again. He exhibits a trust that this is all happening according to God's providence (vs. 16). This time the consequences would likely mean suffering in Egyptian bondage for the rest of his life. He has gone from selling Joseph into slavery to being one who is willing to become a slave so that his brother, Benjamin, would be set free (vs. 32-34). Not only did Judah offer himself as a pledge to Jacob if Benjamin should be lost (43:8-10), but now here, Judah offers himself as a substitute to Joseph for Benjamin's release (44:32-34). He follows through with his pledge to Jacob. Again, Judah serves as a typological arrow pointing directly at Jesus Christ.

In Genesis 43 we saw that like Judah, Jesus Christ became a pledge for our safety to His Father by offering Himself for us. So, here, we see a "type" that opens up another nuance of Christ's work on the cross. Like Judah, Jesus Christ actually offered himself in the form of a vicarious imprisonment, to become a captive for our sake. He didn't just pledge it, He did it. Though we are slaves to our sin, and we are utterly blind, dead, and helpless in our sin, Jesus Christ became His people's sin. He didn't just say He would, He did it. He received the just sentence we deserve for our rebellion. Not that Jesus became a slave to the power of sin in a way that He was overpowered, but He so identified with our impurity and guilt that He was bound by sinful men, torn and beaten, then nailed to a cross of wood (see the song below). Beyond that, He bore the eternal wrath of God in His body on that tree. It reminds me of this hymn:

The Power of the Cross 
Oh, to see the dawn 
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary. 
Tried by sinful men, 
Torn and beaten, then 
Nailed to a cross of wood. 

This, the power of the cross: 
Christ became sin for us; 
Took the blame, bore the wrath— 
We stand forgiven at the cross. 

Oh, to see the pain 
Written on Your face, 
Bearing the awesome weight of sin. 
Every bitter thought, 
Every evil deed 
Crowning Your bloodstained brow. 

Now the daylight flees; 
Now the ground beneath 
Quakes as its Maker bows His head. 
Curtain torn in two, 
Dead are raised to life; 
"Finished!" the victory cry. 

Oh, to see my name 
Written in the wounds, 
For through Your suffering I am free. 
Death is crushed to death; 
Life is mine to live, 
Won through Your selfless love. 

This, the power of the cross: 
Son of God—slain for us. 
What a love! 
What a cost! 
 We stand forgiven at the cross. 

The Power of the Cross 
Words and Music by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend Copyright © 2005 
Thankyou Music 

Judah is a foreshadow of Jesus Christ. Will you put your faith in Jesus' powerful work of substitution that Genesis 44 is pointing to?

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