And the famine was sore in the land. And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the corn which they had brought out of Egypt, their father said unto them, Go again, buy us a little food. (Genesis 43:1-2 KJV)
Back to the Sunday School series on Joseph. In Chapter 42, ten of Jacob’s sons went to Egypt for food because of the famine Joseph had interpreted from Pharaoh's dream. Nine returned home, Simeon detained to assure their return. In Chapter 43, the food has been depleted and Jacob calls for another trip.
An argument ensues – Jacob does not want Benjamin to accompany his brothers. The last time one of Rachel’s sons went out to his brothers, he did not return. Jacob could not bear to lose this second son of his most beloved wife. But Judah offered to stand in his place:
And Judah said unto Israel his father, Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go; that we may live, and not die, both we, and thou, and also our little ones. I will be surety for him; of my hand shalt thou require him: if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever: (Genesis 43:8-9 KJV)
Judah, from whom our Lord descends. Judah, fourth son of Leah, assumes the position of leadership. Reuben, Simeon and Levi were later given reason for their lack of leadership:
Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father's bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch. Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. (Genesis 49:3-5 KJV)
Judah, instead, receives the primary blessing:
Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee. (Genesis 49:8 KJV)
There are consequences for our actions. Reuben, Simeon and Levi were not punished by law for their actions, they were lowered in their father’s eyes and did not receive what they might have perceived as their due inheritance. Judah received the blessing due the first born, the child to carry out his father’s legacy, the son whose name was given to a kingdom, from whose line our savior was born.
Just as Judah offered to stand as a trade for Benjamin, his physical descendant stands as trade for us. All we have to do is believe that He exists and is able to cleanse us from sins. Through God’s merciful grace, we are saved.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 KJV)
No amount of good works can accomplish this, but once it is accomplished, good works will follow, as God ordained. The consequences for us not to accept are plainly written in God’s word.
(Hmmmm. Not the original thought path I had in mind this morning. We’ll return to Joseph tomorrow.)