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In Genesis chapter 44 we read about Joseph instructing his servant to place his silver cup in Benjamin's sack. I guess what struck me about all this is that it seemed to me like Joseph was possibly playing mind games with his brothers. Not to say that they didn't deserve it... but, I wonder if in all of this Joseph had a master game-plan - or if it was simply games he was playing? The weeping we see from him kind of makes me think that he was not 100% sure of what he was doing, game-plan wise. The weeping seemed to indicate that he wanted to reconnect with his brothers and his family. It seems in all of this he has kept at least 1 family member around - or has not let them get very far away. This makes me wonder - do we play mind games with others around us? Should we? Would it have been better if Joseph was honest with his brothers from the beginning on who he was? Would it be better for us if we are simply honest with others from the beginning? And don't play mind games? (I wrote the previous words several years ago. I've since read a couple of Bible commentaries that now make me think that Joseph wasn't playing mind games, but was bringing his brothers to a needed place of repentance for their sins before he revealed himself, which does make a lot of sense.) Below is a painting from 1831 by Russian painter Alexander Ivanov of Joseph's household manager finding the silver cup in Benjamin's sack:
Verses 18 through 34 in this chapter is Judah's amazing speech to Joseph! I don't know what it is about this speech. But I love it! It seems like Judah is finally owning up to being who he was born to be - the forefather of the line of King David and Jesus Christ. Verse 33 is the verse that really stood out to me: "Please, my lord, let me stay here as a slave instead of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers." What struck me about this is that now Judah is willing to be the slave, in the place of his brother Benjamin - whereas 22 years prior he offered up the idea of selling his brother Joseph into slavery as we read in Genesis 37 verses 26 & 27: "Judah said to the others, "What can we gain by killing our brother? That would just give us a guilty conscience. Let's sell Joseph to those Ishmaelite traders." It seems like Judah in chapter 44 has finally grown up and is acting like a morally responsible adult. Judah with this speech today is finally beginning to look like he might indeed deserve to be referred to as the father of the tribe of the "Lion" of Judah!
Genesis chapter 45 begins with Joseph weeping again - and I think that it makes perfect sense that he does so, in light of Judah's impassioned speech! And I wonder if Joseph in part weeps because Judah is offering to be the slave in the place of Benjamin? Either Joseph is weeping because his brothers did not show him this same mercy 22 years prior - or he is weeping because he is happy that Judah and his brothers seem to be very different people from 22 years prior - or he's weeping for other reasons. :) (Similar to my note above, I now think Joseph was weeping because his brother's are now humbled and repentant - very different men than they were 22 years prior.) Below is a painting from 1816 by Peter von Cornelius of Joseph revealing his identity to his brothers in today's readings:
Verse 5 in this chapter is a powerfully mature statement from Joseph to his brothers: "But don't be angry with yourselves that you did this to me, for God did it. He sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives." I find this very powerful that Joseph discerned this. He had been sold into slavery for 11 years! He was in a prison for 2 years! And then, yes, things got better for him thereafter - but he was still apart from his family. And yet - Joseph saw God's hand and God's plan in all of this. There was a greater good happening - the preservation of Abraham & Isaac's descendants. The preservation of God's covenant people. I then wonder about this in our lives. Are there times where we go through some hard times - maybe for many years - and in the midst of that, could God be working? Could God's hand and God's plan be moving in the midst of challenging times in our lives? I think it's possible that if I was Joseph that maybe I would have become a bitter man toward my brothers - and maybe done worse than just mind games. But, Joseph was compassionate - he wept - he gave grain in abundance to his family - he forgave his brothers. And more than anything, he saw that God was in control. Do you believe that God is in control of your life? Right now? All the time? No matter how good or how bad circumstances seem? Is God in control? Below is a very unique :) portrait by artist Guy Rowe of Joseph revealing his identity to his brothers and their looks of shock from 45:3: "But his brothers were speechless! They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them."
Worship Video: Today's readings in reminded me of the Third Day song "Call My Name:"
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Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
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