Fellowship at Cross Creek
Gen. 43:1ff A Place to Cry…
Intro… Israel bemoans the fact that he has to entrust his youngest son in the hands of his older brothers in order to obtain grain to save the entire family. When his sons do reach Egypt and are escorted to the home of the harsh, mistrustful ruler that they have been having to deal with, they fear that the slavery they sold their younger brother into many years ago is about to unjustly overtake them. Joseph, gazing upon the younger brother whom he thought he would never see again, as well as, witnessing the fulfillment of his youthful visions, is now caught off guard by the thoughts, feelings and emotions he is experiencing and must find a private place to weep. Fears and tears.
Have you ever caught yourself feeling all or any of the emotions being described within this story…whining about water that has already gone under the bridge or fearing the worst case scenario or being suddenly brought to tears without having even see it come to pass?
I had a small moment like this just last night. It seemingly came out of nowhere. I was watching a film in which the dog reminded me of our Cairn Terrier Gracie which we had for just under 15 years and whom we lost almost five years ago. I would take winter naps with her on the couch in which she would lay on my stomach. I treasured those days. And then she was gone. I remember looking heavenward and telling God that it’s not fair that a pet can live long enough to become deeply rooted into one’s heart, but not long enough to go the full distance. So far we have not replaced her. And I have had perhaps hundreds of other moments within my lifetime when emotions suddenly came exploding out to the surface.
These are not bad. They just mean that something in the present is lancing a boil of previous pent up hurt, anger, sorrow, fear, trauma or joy. Thoughts are connecting. The brain says I know this thought, this feeling. We have been here before because I filed it right over…oops! Already there are you? In tears? Yep. I was about to tell you that this previous moment was powerful, so you had better be prepared to cry, and crying is not bad. Crying can be very cathartic. Very healing. So go ahead and have your cry…
If you have had one of those moments, then you know what Joseph may be feeling within this story…
Recently, we began a new unit or section or person of study…the life of Joseph. Essentially, the story of Joseph, is for the most part, our story. Chosen by God for a special purpose, Joseph must first endure much suffering and injustice before arriving at his God-ordained purpose and calling, and what a purpose it will be.
As we read, I want you to continue pondering, your special identity in Christ, and that just because you may be going through difficult days, your suffering…your waiting is NOT in vain. As God’s child…as God’s children, just as with Joseph and his brothers, you…we…all have a purpose in Christ (Romans 8; Eph. 1; 1 Peter 1).
The Bible’s very first word is the Hebrew word Bərēšīṯ, which means “in [the] beginning.” “Genesis” is actually the Greek word for “beginnings” or “origins,” and thus the origin for both the Latin and English transliteration: Genesis.
So what’s our goal? Just to explore. Like an archaeologist exploring ancient ruins, we are going back to the Scripture’s beginnings to do a little Spiritual digging and poking around to see what was God doing before God’s Son was Spiritually conceived in his mother Mary’s womb? What were the world, people and life like from the very beginning?
Summary of Recent Explorations…
• The Creation: The Creator Creates His Creation and its Caretakers (Adam and Eve). Gen. 1-2.
• The Fall: But a Crafty Adversary Emerges, Infecting the Creator’s Caretakers with a Virulent Strain of Deceptive Evil (non-beneficial actions). Gen. 3-4.
• The Flood: The story of the righteous Servant and a devastating Flood. In order to Save his Creation from a self-destructive and merciless evil, the Creator Must radically purge or cleanse his Creation Gen. 5-7.
• Creation’s New Beginning…Gen. 8-11.
• Creation’s New Caretaker: The Creator Raises up, Chooses and Greatly Blesses a righteous and trusting Caretaker named Abraham. Gen. 12-25.
• The Torch of the Creator’s Trusting Caretaking Now Passes to Succeeding Generations (Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and Joshua…) Gen. 26ff.
Joseph’s Story…Gen. 37-50.
• Jacob’s older sons grow deeply resentful of their favored youngest brother, Joseph. Gen. 37:1ff.
• Joseph’s jealous older brother tell their grieving father, Jacob, that Joseph has been killed by wild animals, when in actuality they have sold Joseph into slavery. Gen. 37:12ff.
• Despite being wrongly trafficked as a slave and then falsely accused and imprisoned God’s sustaining grace still accompanies Joseph. Gen. 39:1ff.
• Despite rightly interpreting the baker and cupbearer’s dreams, Joseph’s grace seemingly goes unrewarded. Gen. 40:1ff.
• Finally, Joseph is delivered from his false imprisonment by being remembered by the cupbearer and correctly interpreting Pharaoh’s two dreams. Gen. 41:1ff.
• Pharaoh now empowers Joseph to be the supreme authority to wisely guide Egypt through these next years of predicted plenty and famine. Gen. 41:38ff.
• Due to the famine, unknowingly Joseph’s brothers have been reunited with their younger who now controls all the grain in Egypt. Gen. 42:1ff.
• Jacob refuses to risk losing another son when his sons tell him that they were forced to leave their brother Simeon behind back in Egypt as surety that they would bring back their youngest brother Benjamin in order to prove that they are NOT spies. Gen. 42:19ff.
Pray; read three times (perhaps just twice) and ask questions…
43:1 Now the famine was severe in the land.
2 So it came about when they had finished eating the grain which they had brought from Egypt, that their father said to them, “Go back, buy us a little food.”
3 Judah spoke to him, however, saying, “The man solemnly warned us, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’
4 If you send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food.
5 But if you do not send him, we will not go down; for the man said to us, ‘You will not see my face unless your brother is with you.’”
6 Then Israel said, “Why did you treat me so badly by telling the man whether you still had another brother?”
Do you have those friends or family members that have the gift of stating the obvious…after the fact? It’s a little late now Jacob (Israel) to complain. Cat is out of the bag.
7 But they said, “The man questioned particularly about us and our relatives, saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Have you another brother?’ So we answered his questions. Could we possibly know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down’?”
8 Judah said to his father Israel, “Send the lad with me and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, we as well as you and our little ones. 9 I myself will be surety for him; you may hold me responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame before you forever. 10 For if we had not delayed, surely by now we could have returned twice.”
What does bear the blame mean? What does it entail. Earlier, one of the brothers was willing to put up his two sons, which of course sounded a bit ridiculous, because why would a grandfather want to take his grandsons’ lives because their father failed to fulfill his promise to bring back another brother?
11 Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, then do this: take some of the best products of the land in your bags, and carry down to the man as a present, a little balm and a little honey, aromatic gum and myrrh, pistachio nuts and almonds.
It certainly sounds good…
12 Take double the money in your hand, and take back in your hand the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks; perhaps it was a mistake.
Restitution…anything to prevent the loss of another son. Israel seems to have a sixth sense as to the importance of his sons, which is borne out because they will form the basis of the 12 tribes of Israel. Ironically too, Benjamin and Judah will provide the first kings of Israel…Benjamin…Saul…and Judah…David and Solomon. And eventually Benjamin will become subsumed under Judah to form the nation of Judah when the 12 tribes divide. In fact, one could make a case today that the Jews of today derive their ancestry from both tribes.
13 Take your brother also, and arise, return to the man; 14 and may God Almighty grant you compassion in the sight of the man, so that he will release to you your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.” 15 So the men took this present, and they took double the money in their hand, and Benjamin; then they arose and went down to Egypt and stood before Joseph.
16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to his house steward, “Bring the men into the house, and slay an animal and make ready; for the men are to dine with me at noon.”
17 So the man did as Joseph said, and brought the men to Joseph’s house.
18 Now the men were afraid, because they were brought to Joseph’s house; and they said, “It is because of the money that was returned in our sacks the first time that we are being brought in, that he may seek occasion against us and fall upon us, and take us for slaves with our donkeys.”
Don’t we all typically assume the worst, especially when we are afraid to begin with?
19 So they came near to Joseph’s house steward, and spoke to him at the entrance of the house, 20 and said, “Oh, my lord, we indeed came down the first time to buy food, 21 and it came about when we came to the lodging place, that we opened our sacks, and behold, each man’s money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in full. So we have brought it back in our hand.
The go-between…feel him out; make our case…and perhaps it is NOT as bad as it seems…
22 We have also brought down other money in our hand to buy food; we do not know who put our money in our sacks.”
23 He said, “Be at ease, 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.
Meaning…I put it back in your sacks?
24 Then the man brought the men into Joseph’s house and gave them water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their donkeys fodder. 25 So they prepared the present for Joseph’s coming at noon; for they had heard that they were to eat a meal there.
“The present,” meaning the food and gifts that their father had sent with them?
26 When Joseph came home, they brought into the house to him the present which was in their hand and bowed to the ground before him.
Much like Joseph had dreamed so many years ago (Gen. 37:5ff)?
27 Then he asked them about their welfare, and said, “Is your old father well, of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?”
28 They said, “Your servant our father is well; he is still alive.” They bowed down in homage.
Again…there were two dreams…
29 As he lifted his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, he said, “Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me?” And he said, “May God be gracious to you, my son.”
30 Joseph hurried out for he was deeply stirred over his brother, and he sought a place to weep; and he entered his chamber and wept there.
31 Then he washed his face and came out; and he controlled himself and said, “Serve the meal.”
San Marco Mosaics – Atrium, First Cupola of Joseph, the brothers banquet
Photo taken by Brian McMorrow in the Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark) in Venice, Italy… of the Mosaic of The Brother’s Banquet…(12th-13th Century A.D.). To see images of more incredible New Testament and Old Testament mosaics within the basilica visit…http://www.wga.hu/html_m/zgothic/mosaics/6sanmarc/
32 So they served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat bread with the Hebrews, for that is loathsome to the Egyptians.
33 Now they were seated before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth, and the men looked at one another in astonishment.
34 He took portions to them from his own table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. So they feasted and drank freely with him.
• Because of the famine’s severity, Israel’s family begins to run short of food again, so Israel tells his sons to return to Egypt to buy more food.
• But Judah has to remind his father what the Egyptian ruler had told them—that if they don’t bring back their youngest brother then they would not receive an audience with the man… which is important because he still holds their brother Simeon as a hostage in case they turned out to be spies.
• Israel bemoans the fact that his sons have placed him within this bind.
• Judah then pledges himself as security for taking his younger brother Benjamin back with them, presumably meaning Simeon takes Benjamin’s place if Benjamin is detained as Simeon was.
• Israel relents, and in hopes of ensuring Benjamin’s safe return, he sends along with Benjamin special gifts, as well as, double the monies that were unknowingly returned to his sons from the previous trip and grain purchase.
• When Israel’s sons arrive in Egypt they are brought before Joseph who when seeing his younger brother Benjamin orders an animal slaughtered for a great feast at his home.
• Since they are being brought to Joseph’s house, his brothers fear that they are about to be made slaves for NOT having paid for what they received last time, so they tell their story and plead their case to Joseph’s assistant.
• The assistant tells them that everything is fine and to not be afraid because it was their God who brought about their monies being providentially returned to their grain sacks.
• When Joseph arrives, the brothers present their father’s gifts to Joseph and (much as Joseph had dreamed many years previous) they bow down before him.
• Joseph asks about their father and if he is still alive, and the brothers respond that their father is alive and well.
• When Joseph spots Benjamin, he is overcome with emotion and must exit the room so that he may weep.
• When Joseph regains his composure he returns to the feast where he has the brothers set to themselves, but in order of birth, which astonishes the brothers; Joseph eats with the Egyptians because it would be disgusting for the Egyptians to eat with the Hebrews.
• But then Joseph takes the food that is set before him and gives it to his brothers, giving the most to his brother Benjamin.
• And then the brothers drink with Joseph until they have become fairly intoxicated.
Summary: When Joseph’s brothers are able to persuade their father Israel to allow them to return to Egypt with their youngest brother Benjamin as they had been previously instructed to, they are rewarded with a great banquet in the presence of the mysterious Egyptian ruler.
Why did God include this event in his record or what would we not know–about God, life, myself, others, etc.–if this story were not in the Bible?
• For one thing, the fulfillment of prophecy or at least Joseph’s dreams. In other words, what Joseph had dreamt was true. His family’s sheaves and his family’s constellations HAD bowed down Joseph. He was just telling the truth as he had dreamt it. Ironically, the true dream or vision had led to his brothers’ jealousies which in turn led to his being sold into slavery and eventually ending up being in charge of all of Egypt’s grain during the both the years of plenty and now famine, which has now led in turn to his brothers bowing down in his presence, just has he had dreamed. His dreams…God’s purposes had come full circle. When Joseph saw his brothers bowing to him, at least this portion of God’s plan and his painful journey to this moment in time had to be falling into place. Now did he see the rest of God’s plan? How for four hundred years Israel the family would grow into Israel the enslaved nation that God would redeem via his Passover? Doubtful. But even this part is amazing.
And how does all this work? Well as I have said before. There is no time to God or heaven. Time and space exist for us his Creation, but God, nor his angels are bound by time and space. So for God’s Spirit to allow Joseph to see outside or beyond his own time and space to a future time and space, where his family bows before him is really no big deal. I tell people to think of it this way. Think of a time-space donut. All of time or history is on that donut in a sequential order. God and heaven surrounds the donut but are not bound by or to the donut. So all the Spirit has to do is to make a direct connection or link from one moment in or on the donut to another….from one’s future to one’s present, which is essentially what happened to Joseph. The Spirit via a direct connection allowed Joseph to momentarily see further up or along the time-space donut. Thus Joseph was seeing reality, just a future reality and via a metaphorical dream…
• Judah intercedes and acts as the security to bring Benjamin safe home. Judah’s descendent, the Christ, or Yah-Saves…Jesus…will intervene and pledge himself and as our security to bring us all home safe to our Father. Some people just stand in the gap. Now as followers of Jesus, we too stand in the gap, pledging our lives as security to bring others home to God.
• The welling up feelings or emotions that Joseph has upon seeing his true little brother for the first time is truly one of the powerful emotional moments in all of Scripture. Betrayed, almost murdered, sold into slavery, then falsely throw into prison and forgotten, Joseph had to be tempted to think that he would never see his family again, especially his father and younger brother. Now almost fifteen long years later, God had so paradoxically arranged life so that here he was seeing all his brothers, including his full younger brother Benjamin. Fifteen years of raw, pent up feeling, thought and emotion now comes exploding to the surface (See the story in my introduction).
• And finally, the banquet scene with all his brothers is touching. And Joseph sharing his food with his brothers despite the Egyptians initial prejudice. Paradise or heaven is often described as a banquet with God. Some of the rabbis have said that God is our food and drink or our tree and river of life. There is just something about a family reunion and banquet in the midst of a dire famine that conjures up images of the divine…of heaven…of life with God…forever…without threat…with joy, peace, fellowship and contentment…
Thanks … I survived Easter Sunday. It really didn’t go the way I had planned. I jettisoned two videos and my Keynote presentation. I stuck with my intro, but my intro led me into just basically restating the second half of the previous week’s teaching…of sonship’s Spiritual immunity and protection in which the Father allows us to grow Spiritually into the image of Christ…the SON… as opposed to being enslaved to slavery’s fear, particularly of making mistakes, telling the truth or living fully in the light for fear of being kicked out of the house. “If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8). I see this is one of the most fundamental of all biblical passages in a way that I have never seen it before. If the Son’s atonement sets you free from sin’s enslavement, and it will, then you will be free indeed. No longer a slave. Thanks, God. And in fact, I had one gal, who has seemed very Spiritually tough to crack, come up afterwards and say, “I was glad that you didn’t use your videos and Keynotes. What you said really made sense. My husband thought the same. Thanks.” Thank you, Jesus.
Struggle…Stomach flu for most of the week. It’s kind of thrown me off a bit of what I wanted to get done, but I am surviving. Energy has been somewhat hit or miss. Need to walk. I have what I set aside last Sunday for this Sunday, so Sunday’s teaching should not be a problem. But who knows? I have really ground the last two weeks. Maybe I am ahead a bit, at least teaching preparation-wise, but behind on so many other things, including writing and pastoring. But we plug along with God’s undeserved favor.
Truth… 1) The emotion Joseph expresses upon seeing his youngest brother Benjamin; 2) God’s sovereignty or being outside of Creation’s time and space so that via His Spirit he can connect different and even multiple points on the time-space timeline together, with the primary result being the future to a certain degree becomes forseeable; 3) The banquet reconciliation, despite the brothers not fully grasping that they are sitting in the presence of the brother they betrayed many years before.
Application… Momentarily flipped out today when my rabbit trail wrecked a portion of my computer’s iTunes music. About 500 songs all got labeled as the same album. I am not even sure what I did. Probably accidently hit one key at the wrong moment. But the price seemed so high, and there was no going back or undo. So after I threw my fit…because I thought I was being unfairly penalized despite seeking to follow all the rules. Then I only got madder because I didn’t take a break and walk away. That’s always my weaknesses. I can fix it. Just a little bit more. And then when I make more mistakes, I freak out. Twelve hours later, I had not only fixed my many mistakes, I ended up going through all my music and getting it properly labeled and organized by genre. So in the end, a simple mistake ends up redeeming itself. And isn’t that often the case. A mistakes exposes a ton of long-term neglect, so we finally go back and do what we should have done so long ago.
So what’s my application? I kid you not I had helped several people with what I call the Addition Principle in the last 24 hours, even more in the last 72 hours, and then I stumble into it like a wet noodle. What’s the Addition Principle you ask? When one thing comes along and seemingly affects your outlook about everything else. One super bad thing happens and we view ten other things bad too. When a super good thing happens and we will view those same ten other things positively. What’s the point? Focus on the one really bad thing when it happens…the one that is affecting everything else. Change your perspective on it and no doubt you will change your perspective on everything else. This also means that things are neither as bad or as good we might initially think or react to.
It was all so subtle for me. I was working along fine. Then I heard a song. After I went to look it up, I decided to purchase it, which led to several other musical purchases that I had been putting off. Somewhere after this, the royal screw up occurred, resulting in a minor distraction turning into a full blown one. So here I am thirteen hours later finishing up this study. My story of sin or imperfection.
What’s this all got to do with Joseph? There for a moment, not a long moment, but still a moment, I really piled up or added up how bad everything else was. I buried my head in pillow, I very colorfully told God how angry that I was about all a lot of things… and not just my world, but the worlds’ of those I care about it and the world itself.
But after some rest, a timeout and a walk and talk with my wife, I was able to chip away and learn to better do what I should have learned a long time ago, but because the learning curve broke all my laws of good teaching and learning, I had avoided. Ultimately, I was no different than Joseph desperately seeking to be freed from prison, Israel avoiding the obvious—the family’s need for grain and wishing his sons had not told the Egyptian ruler, whom Israel has no idea is the son whom he still deeply grieves for, about his youngest son Benjamin, or Joseph’s brothers fearing that they are about to get into trouble for having unintentionally not paid for the grain during the previous trip or happily enjoying the favor of the Egyptian ruler, not realizing I am in the presence of my grace than I can ever imagine. I am just slob, who thinks he knows a bit more than others—and at least Spiritually and biblically, I probably do, and yet, I am just as weak, just as naive, just as stupid, just as susceptible, just as error-prone as the next guy. Thank God for his atoning-saving-forgiving grace and mercy. This poor slob is desperately dependent upon it whether I realize it in the moment or not. Amen.
Biggest Struggle at the moment:
How does what happen here relate to you?
What about your kids?
Biggest Struggles (Imagine these or several–put yourself in their shoes–walk through a day with them at school, at home. What might they encounter?)
Now how does what happen here possibly relate/ (Remember this is only to give you a feel or an introductory hook or a reinforcing took; in there looking, they may come up with something entirely different.)
Remember to have fun, sense the Spirit’s leading and develop a love for these kids.
As always, thanks!
Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968,1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission.” (www.Lockman.org).