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September 13, 2020 | Doug Sauder
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“Please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No!”—Genesis 44:33–34 (NIV)
This is such a heart-wrenching story! Every time I read it, I am overcome with empathy, to feel so deeply the raw and real emotions of Joseph, Jacob, and Judah.
In today’s time together, we’re working through Genesis 44:14–34 (NIV) as Joseph’s brothers return to the palace after Joseph’s cup was found in Benjamin’s bag. Now faced with losing Benjamin, Judah speaks, saying, “What can we say . . . How can we prove our innocence?” He knows they were innocent of this particular transgression and pleaded that innocence.
But then his tone and heart shifts in drastic fashion: “God has uncovered your servants’ guilt.” What guilt? The guilt over the wrongs committed years ago against Joseph! No longer pleading innocence, Judah had a big spotlight on his heart exposing their sin against God and Joseph. Do you see how the Lord is working in Judah’s heart, revealing truth and bringing him to the place of confession and repentance? Can you see how God brings us to the place of understanding where we acknowledge our guilt before Him before bringing about redemption and restoration?
So, Judah says, “We are now my lord’s slaves—we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup.” Not willing to leave Benjamin, Judah offers he and his brothers who transgressed against God and Joseph to bear the punishment. But the Egyptian lord refused, only claiming the life of Benjamin.
Judah; however, knew the pain this would cause Jacob, so he says, “Please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers.”
Wow! Do you see the shadow of the gospel? Judah offers to take his brothers place, to bear the punishment, to willingly become a slave, and give his life for his brother. Isaiah 53:4–5 (NIV) says, “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering . . . But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him.”
Just as Judah said, “How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me?” Jesus, the Good Shepherd who ALWAYS goes after the one, refused to go back to His Father empty-handed, without the sons and daughters He so dearly loves. Instead, “he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7–8 NIV). He took our rightfully deserved punishment in order to bring us home to the Father, as fully accepted and adopted sons and daughters, heirs of the King. What a picture of the gospel this passage paints for us!
DIG: How did God go about bringing Judah and his brothers to the point of conviction and confession?
DISCOVER: How do Judah’s actions foreshadow the work of Christ?
DO: In your prayer time today, thank Jesus for taking our punishment in order to bring us to the Father!