Genesis 44:1-17 To obtain salvation, one must rise from where he has once fallen
1 Then he commanded his house steward, saying, “Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack. 2 Put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, and his money for the grain.” And he did as Joseph had told him. 3 As soon as it was light, the men were sent away, they with their donkeys. 4 They had just gone out of the city, and were not far off, when Joseph said to his house steward, “Up, follow the men; and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid evil for good? 5 Is not this the one from which my lord drinks and which he indeed uses for divination? You have done wrong in doing this.’”
6 So he overtook them and spoke these words to them. 7 They said to him, “Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your servants to do such a thing. 8 Behold, the money which we found in the mouth of our sacks we have brought back to you from the land of Canaan. How then could we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house? 9 With whomever of your servants it is found, let him die, and we also will be my lord’s slaves.” 10 So he said, “Now let it also be according to your words; he with whom it is found shall be my slave, and the rest of you shall be innocent.” 11 Then they hurried, each man lowered his sack to the ground, and each man opened his sack. 12 He searched, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest, and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13 Then they tore their clothes, and when each man loaded his donkey, they returned to the city.
14 When Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house, he was still there, and they fell to the ground before him. 15 Joseph said to them, “What is this deed that you have done? Do you not know that such a man as I can indeed practice divination?” 16 So Judah said, “What can we say to my lord? What can we speak? And how can we justify ourselves? God has found out the iniquity of your servants; behold, we are my lord’s slaves, both we and the one in whose possession the cup has been found.” 17 But he said, “Far be it from me to do this. The man in whose possession the cup has been found, he shall be my slave; but as for you, go up in peace to your father.”
Joseph strategises and plans according to the dream to bring his brothers and his father and mother into Egypt. This he does fully trusting in divine wisdom and providence. At the same time, his plans force the brothers to relive the horror that they have brought upon him causing them to acknowledge their transgressions and repent. Today’s devotion teaches us that salvation requires one to rise from where he has once fallen. It is through repentance and sanctification that believers obtain salvation and experience eternal blessings.
Put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, and his money for the grain.
Joseph’s intention appears conflicted: On one hand he is generous as seen in his filling up the sacks with as much as they can carry while returning the grain money. However, unknown to the brothers, Joseph had hidden his silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. The brothers, having gotten grain, Simeon and Benjamin supposed that the worst is behind them and they are well on their way home. But, little did they know that the hardest part of the journey is just ahead.
After they had just gone out of the city, and were not far off, Joseph gave instructions to his steward to overtake them. Joseph had them set up for a crime with circumstantial evidence that they could not defend. This time, they would taste how it felt like being unjustly treated and having one’s rights forcibly taken. The steward accused them with unpardonable ingratitude and sacrilege: Why have you repaid evil for good? Is not this the one from which my lord drinks and which he indeed uses for divination? The brothers jointly protested their innocence and offered a wild guarantee: With whomever of your servants it is found, let him die, and we also will be my lord’s slaves. The silver cup is in fact the symbol of a heinous crime committed against Joseph some 20 years before. Nevertheless, their rash guarantee comes from sheer confidence of innocence of a crime they have grotesquely overlooked and forgotten.
And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. Then they tore their clothes
At the brothers’ word, a search was conducted which yielded the silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. The brothers, upon realising the worst that has come upon them tore their clothes. They returned to Egypt and prostrated themselves before Joseph. Judah, in his speech made known their complete bewilderment where he subtly protested their innocence concerning the silver cup: What can we say to my lord? What can we speak? And how can we justify ourselves? He has also unwittingly confessed to unspecified transgressions that led them to their present plight: God has found out the iniquity of your servants. Here, he offered all the brothers as slaves at Joseph’s service: behold, we are my lord’s slaves, both we and the one in whose possession the cup has been found. In so doing, he undoes the earlier oath to kill the guilty.
The man in whose possession the cup has been found, he shall be my slave.
Joseph responded in demanding only the guilty to be enslaved while releasing the rest to return home. Joseph’s strategem to save Israel is built on the dream itself. And this involves bringing both his parents into Egypt. However, the sticking point remains that the brothers have yet to confess to their crime of selling Joseph into Egypt. Revealing his true identity can strike fear in the brothers causing them to flee and never return. And he will not see his father again, a risk that Joseph will not take. Therefore, Joseph must maintain his cover and do all to bring his father to Egypt as the dream dictates. By imprisoning Benjamin, he can perhaps coerce Jacob into coming to him thus fulfilling the assembly of thirteen as shown in his dream (see Genesis 42:9).
Nevertheless, Joseph’s strategem has also caused the brothers to relive the horror and the injustice that they have brought upon him. In so doing, they are forced to reckon with their transgressions and be sanctified in the process.
To obtain salvation, one must rise from where he has once fallen
There can be no salvation until the brothers acknowledge their transgressions against Joseph some 20 years before. Unless there is repentance, there can be no true peace and blessing in the holy family. Even as abundance awaits them, they will taste none of it until they revisit the place of transgression and rise from where they have fallen. The ostentatious set up and the looming execution of Benjamin, all work towards that outcome. The brothers had encountered a string of dire circumstances which they attributed to none other than the divine hand (see Genesis 42:21). Here, Judah found himself confessing to something beyond the scope of the silver cup crime: God has found out the iniquity of your servants. Indeed, the brothers have finally surrendered to the grip of divine chastisement. This fact, supported by Judah softening his stance towards the silver cup charge attests to their inner transformation. Before Joseph, Judah accepts on behalf of his brothers enslavement for an unspecified sin. By accepting punishment and in surrendering, they have indeed come to a place of repentance and salvation.
That said, why does God harp on their sins requiring them to revisit and repent of past transgressions? This is because only by repentance and sanctification can man experience salvation and eternal blessing. Salvation and eternal blessing are but the fruit of a penitent heart and godly life. Therefore, the believer’s goal is to do God’s will and to acquire His virtues. In so doing, he experiences salvation and eternal blessings for all his endeavours (see figure below).
However, if one focuses on acquiring salvation and blessing as opposed to godliness, he relegates God to a means of fulfilling his desires. The end of which are failures and destruction (see figure below). Such are lured into believing that the wealth and temporal blessing they possess come from God when they actually come from the devil. For the devil keeps them satisfied with wealth and temporal things while blinding them to the destruction that lies ahead.
The church consists of two kinds of people: those who serve and love God supremely while trusting Him to provide. And those who serve and love themselves supremely while relegating God to the place of servanthood. Nevertheless, both groups worship together but each with very different motives: one is God-serving, the other is self-serving. That said, many sincerely professed to love God but are entrapped by all kinds insecurities and sinful passions. For such, God disciplines through dire circumstances so that they may repent and be saved. In love, God brings them to where they have initially fallen so that they may repent and be sanctified.
Are you accustomed to reliving the same kind of failures again and again? Some keep meeting the wrong people and getting hurt repeatedly. Some keep making unwise financial decisions getting burned repeatedly. Whatever the circumstances, you must practice self reflection by returning to the place of failure so that you may learn from your mistakes and repent. Write down a list of set backs that you have experienced in the last 5 years. Can you identify a pattern? It is important that you practice self-reflection and refrain from blaming others. Usually, the causes of failure are attributed to decisions made out of envy and greed. And rash decisions that are usually moved by the heart instead of the Spirit. In many occasions, a wrong word spoken out of bitterness and anger can destroy relationships that took years to build. In self-reflection, revisit the places of transgression and trauma. Ask God to heal your heart of the wounds and regrets that correspond to these places.
Dear Lord, I want to face my failures and transgressions with your grace and strength. So that, I may learn from my mistakes and be sanctified. Forgive me of my many foolish deeds and release me of those memories. Blot out my sins and do the same for those memories. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.