Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 45:25-28

25 And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father,

26 And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob’s heart fainted, for he believed them not.

27 And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived:

28 And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.

The news that Joseph is still alive is too incredible for Jacob to believe. Only as he hears all the words that Joseph spoke and sees the gift that his long-lost son sent to him does the truth settle into his heart.

We hear nothing of Jacob’s response to his sons selling Joseph into Egypt. A thought occurs to me that possibly they didn’t tell him. Could they have maintained that they really thought Joseph was consumed by a beast and they’re just as surprised as their father to find out that he’s really alive?

I very much like to think that this wasn’t the case. Jacob would want to know how his son survived, and that would mean that Joseph himself would have to be willing to fabricate a story and lie to his father’s face. And Benjamin would also have to be complicit in the deceit. Doing that would make Joseph and Benjamin become a part of the other brothers’ sin, and I find myself unwilling to accept that they would do that.

And so, though we have no record of what happened, I assume that the truth was made known to Jacob, and that somehow he made his peace with it. Perhaps he was able to surrender his anger towards his other sons by the joy of knowing that “Joseph my son is yet alive,” and “I will go and see him before I die.”

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 43:11-14

11 And their father Israel said unto them, If it must be so now, do this; take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds:

12 And take double money in your hand; and the money that was brought again in the mouth of your sacks, carry it again in your hand; peradventure it was an oversight:

13 Take also your brother, and arise, go again unto the man:

14 And God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.

At last Jacob relents, allowing his sons to take Benjamin with them to Egypt. I see in this a foreshadowing of God the Father entrusting his only begotten son to Joseph, the husband of Mary, who would also have to go down to Egypt to save a life.

Jacob also has the good idea to send his sons with a gift. I would imagine “the best fruits in the land” would be even more valuable than usual, given the ongoing famine. Also it is wise to carry double money so they can get ahead of any accusation of thievery, proving their innocence by bringing the misplaced money back.

And so Jacob surrenders Benjamin to God, hoping that by His mercy the son will be brought back, and even Simeon as well. In this trial Jacob is much like his grandfather Abraham, committing his son to the Almighty and trusting only in grace.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 43:6-10

6 And Israel said, Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother?

7 And they said, The man asked us straitly of our state, and of our kindred, saying, Is your father yet alive? have ye another brother? and we told him according to the tenor of these words: could we certainly know that he would say, Bring your brother down?

8 And Judah said unto Israel his father, Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go; that we may live, and not die, both we, and thou, and also our little ones.

9 I will be surety for him; of my hand shalt thou require him: if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever:

10 For except we had lingered, surely now we had returned this second time.

Jacob complains that they ever told the Egyptians about Benjamin. It seems a strange thing to have disclosed, but the sons maintain that the line of inquiry had driven directly to that matter. Very bad luck it might seem to Jacob, but really there was no luck involved in it at all. Joseph knew exactly what he was getting at and intentionally directed the conversation there.

At this point Jacob’s complaints might simply be an attempt postpone the inevitable. I imagine he already knows that he is sending Benjamin with them, but he wants to express his frustration a bit more before doing so.

Now Judah turns to impassioned promises, much like Reuben did earlier. He will be responsible for the lad, and he will answer for anything bad that happens to him. The very same as Reuben has already pledged.

Judah and Reuben. The eldest and youngest of Leah, two blood brothers of Simeon, who still languishes in the Egyptian prison. Reuben who diverted his brothers’ intention to kill Joseph, and Judah who I have suspicions did the same. Thus, both of these men seem to have a track record of brotherly protection, the ones that Jacob could trust most to make good on their promise. And here, in this moment, their brotherly care is twofold. They are pledging protection of one brother, in order that they might rescue a second.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 43:1-5

1 And the famine was sore in the land.

2 And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the corn which they had brought out of Egypt, their father said unto them, Go again, buy us a little food.

3 And Judah spake unto him, saying, The man did solemnly protest unto us, saying, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you.

4 If thou wilt send our brother with us, we will go down and buy thee food:

5 But if thou wilt not send him, we will not go down: for the man said unto us, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you.

We don’t know how much corn the brothers bought the first time, nor how long it lasted, but it wasn’t enough. Once again, they found themselves unable to preserve their own lives, and needing outside help. I wonder whether this could have been by design on Joseph’s part. He had the benefit of knowing exactly how long this famine was going to last, and so he might have known that the amount of corn the brothers bought would not be enough to get all the way through. They would have to come back whether they wanted to or not.

Which is exactly the same conclusion that Jacob comes to. The sons must go back to Egypt and must buy more grain. But in his request, he leaves out any mention of Benjamin, and whether the boy will be allowed to go with the rest of his brothers.

Earlier Reuben had made impassioned promises to try and get his father to send Benjamin and it hadn’t worked. Now Judah uses a different tactic. He does not open with pleading or solemn oaths, Judah point-blank refuses the old man’s request unless he consents to send the boy. Jacob must choose between risking Benjamin’s life and risking everyone’s life…including Benjamin’s. No further argument is necessary, the correct choice is obvious.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 25:1-2, 5-6

1 Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah.

2 And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.

5 And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.

6 But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.

After Sarah’s passing Abraham took another wife, who bare him six sons that we hardly hear anything about. Abraham gave gifts to all of these sons and then sent them away to establish their own households, retaining the full inheritance for Isaac. Giving the inheritance to a single son was a common custom of the time, but more than that, God had chosen Isaac to carry on His covenant, and not the other sons.

Similarly, God would select only one of Isaac’s sons to receive the covenant promise: Jacob. But then, in the next generation, all of Jacob’s twelve sons would be included in the covenant, not just one. Thus, the decision for how the covenant was passed along to each generation was God’s to make, and then the father’s inheritance followed suit.

While God’s reasoning for which sons he chose for the covenant are not always elaborated, we do see in the case of Jacob and Esau that God selected the son who was more faithful. It seems likely that the continuation of the covenant was based on one’s worthiness, rather than a matter of random election.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 21:1-3

1 And the Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken.

2 For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.

3 And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.

The author of this passage wanted to make it extremely clear that God had made good on His promises. Look at the phrases “as he had said,” “as he had spoken,” and “at the time of which God had spoken.” God had come through completely, and this is an important difference between God and man: God not only keep His promises, He keeps them in every detail of how, when, and where.

Abraham and Sarah’s patience had been tested by this promise. It was years between when God first announced they would have son and the day that it actually occurred. But when God finally gave a specific timeframe for the birth to occur it happened “at the time of which God had spoken.”

Many times we might struggle to believe in God’s promises when it seems long since the time that they should have been fulfilled. Many times God gives us encouragement far in advance of the realization, and it requires great patience to see the journey through to the end. But as soon as God does give specific details of His promises, they will all be met to the letter.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 9:20-23

20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:

21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.

22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.

23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.

Each of us have our personal low point, our “naked shame” that reveals us at our absolute worst. As with Moses, it is often our family who get to see us at those low points. Sometimes they get to see the best of us, but they also get to see the worst. Here we read that Noah was drunk and passed out, certainly not the most honorable of situations to be found in, and the different reactions of his three sons is very telling.

Shem and Japheth keep themselves turned away from their father’s shame and cover him. They are clearly retaining a reverence and respect for the man, even at his low point. And by that I don’t mean to suggest that we should just sweep the failings of our family members under the rug, but if confrontation and boundaries are needed, we can still establish those from a place of love and respect.

Ham, on the other hand, has no excuse for his behavior. Glorying in another’s shame and ridiculing them is never acceptable. By trying to expose his father’s wrong, Ham was also revealing his own.

Who Am I?- Personal Example #2

I do wonder if God is ever amused that we get so worked up on mysteries and questions, especially ones to which He has already placed the simplest answers in plain sight. As I found myself trying to reflect on whether I can be a creation, made in the image of my Heavenly Father, and still be an individual, I had the following thought come to me: “well how is it with your own son, Abe?”

I do have a son of my own, and he is very like me. He doesn’t necessarily look a great deal like I do, not even back when I was his age, but his mind and demeanor I find very familiar. My wife has commented on it as well, how he is very much my son, and not hers.

But then, for all the likenesses between us…he is not me. I can understand much of him, I can relate to many of his experiences, but some parts are entirely an enigma. Parts that my wife cannot claim either, things that are just all him.

As my son grows, I expect that he will manifest even more qualities that are like mine, but I know that he will also always be his own individual. My hope is that the two of us will always be close, share common passions and purposes, be united, and be willing to work together…. But that we will always do so as our own selves.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Frankly, I do not want another me, I rather like being the only one! So, too, I would much rather that my son be himself.

I am convinced it is the same with God. God has Himself, so that’s already covered. If I made myself just like Him, then I would only be giving Him what He already had, and that isn’t what He’s interested in.

What He really wants from me…is me.

All or Nothing- Luke 15:11-14, 17-20, 22-24

And he said, A certain man had two sons:
And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

COMMENTARY

Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.
And not many days after the younger son wasted his substance with riotous living.
Each one of us can relate with the story of the Prodigal Son to some degree. Like the son, each of us began life with wonderful gifts from our Father. Whether we grew up in a religious home or not, our common inheritance at birth included a divine soul, the ability to feel God’s spirit in our hearts, and a desire to be connected with Him.
Like the son, though, so many of us (all of us?) undervalue the significance of such things. We take the greatest gifts that we have in life and squander them, vainly pursuing entertainment or medication in all the wrong places.

And when he had spent all, he began to be in want.
And when he came to himself, he said, How many servants of my father’s have bread enough, and I perish with hunger!

One cannot sever the soul from the body. One can try to muffle it, suppress it, and outright deny it. But it is there, and it does ache us when we fail to care for it. We cannot squander our birthright and not feel bad about it. Sooner or later, we “come to ourselves,” and realize that where once we had everything, now we have nothing.

I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
We had everything, we traded it all for nothing, and now we’ll gladly take anything. From one extreme to the next to the next, we learn to finally give proper value to that which was taken for granted. We are all in now, willing to do whatever it takes to receive whatever God is still willing to give us.

But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
And bring the fatted calf, and let us eat, and be merry
.
And then, of course, the ending which turns would-be followers into full-blown evangelists. Grace and mercy that seem ridiculously over-the-top and totally undeserved. Complete forgiveness and restoration. Not because we’ve earned it, but because God just wants to and no one can tell Him that He can’t! From everything to nothing, to all in, to even more “everything” than we had at the beginning.
This is not some pretty fairy tale that describes an unreal hypothetical. It is not a limited allegory, that will only apply to one or two of God’s most special followers. It is the story that was meant for me, and meant for you, and meant for us all.

Sacrifice and Consecration- Genesis 14:18-20, 22:10-13

And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

COMMENTARY

And he gave him tithes of all
Lay not thine hand upon the lad…for now I know that thou fearest God

We commonly say that God required Abraham to sacrifice his son, but that is not true. What God required was for Abraham to be willing to sacrifice his son. It might seem a subtle distinction, but I believe it is significant.

  1. In the end, Abraham did sacrifice his tithes to Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God. Nothing was held back.
  2. In the end, Abraham did not sacrifice his son. He was held back from actually following through.

Now I don’t mean to discount the mental anguish that Abraham must have faced just by preparing to sacrifice his son. It surely was immense. Even so, it would seem that Abraham was able to recover from it. His life went on, and he continued faithful to the Lord.
I believe that much of the fear I have had in regards to sacrifice is that I don’t want God to break me by mistake. We have all manner of people who ask things of us: parents, teachers, friends, spouses; and even the ones that mean well sometimes ask more than they know, sometimes they hurt us in ways that they shouldn’t.
When we see this failing in those around us it can be easy to project the same fear onto God. What if he asks more of us than He should and accidentally damages us in irreparable ways? It is a misplaced fear, though, for He knows our own limits better than even we do! He knows what He should ask of us, and He knows what He should not. He will test us and He will bend us, but through it all He will maintain utmost respect for our tender hearts.