Surprise!

15 So the men took the gifts and double the amount of silver, and Benjamin also. They hurried down to Egypt and presented themselves to Joseph. 16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, “Take these men to my house, slaughter an animal and prepare a meal; they are to eat with me at noon.” Genesis 43:15-16

The time for Joseph to reveal himself was getting closer. Even though he hadn’t seen Benjamin in over 20 years, he recognized him. Everything Joseph did at this point was carefully planned. He wasn’t shy about letting his brothers sweat a bit more because all would be revealed soon.

Once again, Joseph instructs his servants to take immediate action, again as a not so subtle way of letting the brothers know who was in charge. After he reveals himself, what he’s doing now will make a lot of sense when the brothers think about it.

Director Alfred Hitchcock made his mark in the film industry by filming a good mystery. The build-up to what comes next is perfect for the occasion.

Take a few moments today to surprise someone you haven’t talked to in a while.

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Orchestrating Answered Prayer

11 Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift—a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds. 12 Take double the amount of silver with you, for you must return the silver that was put back into the mouths of your sacks. Perhaps it was a mistake. 13 Take your brother also and go back to the man at once. 14 And may God Almighty grant you mercy before the man so that he will let your other brother and Benjamin come back with you. As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved.” Genesis 43:11-14

Israel finally acquiesced and decided to throw in a few bribes to sweeten the pot. It looks like he was ahead of his time.

A bribe is seen as a charm by the one who gives it; they think success will come at every turn. Proverbs 17:8

Now the brothers could go back to Egypt with Israel’s blessing, encouragement, and support.

Simeon and Benjamin’s life was now in their hands. Plus they wanted to please their father so they would do everything within their power to make this trip successful. They had the boy, gifts, double the silver, but no guarantees.

No guarantees.

The missing ingredient, of course, was prayer. It wasn’t stated, but I suspected they prayed for success before they began the journey. The answer was waiting for them in Egypt but they didn’t know it.

We never know the outcome of events until we experience them. I know it seems like an obvious statement, but we still have to go through life to experience answered prayer. Most of the time prayers aren’t answered on the spot. We have to live life first. We get a small glimpse into the events that happen prior to prayer being answered in this story. We know that the answer to all of their prayers is about to be answered but they had no way of knowing.

Imagine, if you will, praying people around the world and the events that God must orchestrate to answer those prayers. Usually answers to prayer come about as a series of events surrounding the person praying. It is indeed complicated.

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The Advocate

3 But Judah said to him, “The man warned us solemnly, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’ 4 If you will send our brother along with us, we will go down and buy food for you. 5 But if you will not send him, we will not go down, because the man said to us, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.'”

6 Israel asked, “Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man you had another brother?”

7 They replied, “The man questioned us closely about ourselves and our family. ‘Is your father still living?’ he asked us. ‘Do you have another brother?’ We simply answered his questions. How were we to know he would say, ‘Bring your brother down here’?”

8 Then Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy along with me and we will go at once, so that we and you and our children may live and not die. 9 I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life. 10 As it is, if we had not delayed, we could have gone and returned twice.” Genesis 43:3-10

Judah was finally able to cut through the drama and make sense with his father. He personally put himself at risk to bring back food for his family.

While the drama continues to unfold, we know how it will end. They didn’t. They had to make decisions based on incomplete information, much like we have to do every day. Judah understood the severity of the situation and what he had to do to remedy it. Fortunately he had nine other brothers who were on his side and would do what they could to have a happy ending for all. Actually he had Joseph on his side but nobody knew it, and he pulled significantly more weight in this situation than all his brothers combined.

Similarly we have an Advocate pulling for us as well. We don’t see Him but we know that Jesus is interceding on our behalf. Romans 8:34, 1 Timothy 2:5

At every step of our journey.

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The Valley of Decisions

Now the famine was still severe in the land. 2 So when they had eaten all the grain they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go back and buy us a little more food.” Genesis 43:1-2

When Jacob initially made the decision to not send Benjamin with his other brothers, it automatically created consequences. First of all, Simeon was still being held by Pharoah’s food manager, Joseph. I suspect, though, that Joseph had mercy on Simeon and he made living conditions inside the prison better than he had them. Secondly, since the famine was severe, they still needed more food and would have to go to Egypt again. The choices now were “don’t eat,” or “send Benjamin,” or “locate food elsewhere.” If the brothers were to travel elsewhere besides Egypt, they might not find the food they wanted and will have wasted valuable time. They knew Egypt had food, and so the only option was to send Benjamin and deal with that risk.

Because Jacob refused to send Benjamin right away, they were now in a life or death situation. How long did it take the family to eat that grain? Probably not much time at all, perhaps weeks at the most.

I can appreciate the pressure Jacob was under when the sons returned from Egypt. But while his concern for Benjamin was laudable, his concern for Simeon in prison was negligible. All of that will change very soon.

We are rarely faced with the decisions Jacob was faced with. Because of his large family he had more to consider because men, women, and children needed to be fed. He knew what he had to do. He didn’t like it, and we would see more drama unfold before it was over, but he desperately needed more food.

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Jacob’s Dilemma

29 When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them. They said, 30 “The man who is lord over the land spoke harshly to us and treated us as though we were spying on the land. 31 But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies. 32 We were twelve brothers, sons of one father. One is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in Canaan.’

33 “Then the man who is lord over the land said to us, ‘This is how I will know whether you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take food for your starving households and go. 34 But bring your youngest brother to me so I will know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you, and you can trade in the land.'”

35 As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man’s sack was his pouch of silver! When they and their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened. 36 Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!”

37 Then Reuben said to his father, “You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back.”

38 But Jacob said, “My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow.” Genesis 42:29-38

As we get closer to Joseph’s revelation, things are getting tense in with Jacob’s family. Jacob seemed to be given to drama, while Reuben tried to calm his father’s fears. Reuben himself was taking a risk of offering his own sons to guarantee Benjamin’s safe return.

Still, Jacob would have nothing of it because he didn’t know the outcome. Only one person knew the outcome of this situation, and Jacob clearly didn’t trust him. Why would he? When the brothers went to a foreign land to request food, they were at the mercy of Pharoah.

Jacob had to trust a man he didn’t know or had ever met. Even now Simeon was being held so that the brothers would return for him.

God asks that we put our trust in a man we have never physically seen or met. The lifetime He promises us is not all glory and roses. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.

  • Scripture tells us we will be persecuted for His sake.
  • We might be mocked and insulted for His sake.
  • We could be beaten or thrown into the fire for His sake.
  • Our relatives and friends could disown us for this belief.

Still want to believe and have faith?

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17

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