Epistles to the Cyberchurch - Su Min

To: 9 readers
From: Su Min (Lim Su Min)
Subject: Silver Cup

My dear children,

Today we look at Genesis 44. Joseph has greeted his brothers with a great feast, and now sends them back to Canaan with the grain they had come to purchase. He has instructed that their silver be returned, unknowingly to them, and his personal silver cup to be placed in Benjamin's sack (Gen 44:1-2).

The convoy is on it's way but soon stopped, and when challenged, the brothers protest innocence, even to death of the guilty one and enslavement of all brothers if the theft is proven (Gen 44:6-10). The steward tones down this suggested punishment to propose enslavement of the guilty one. A search is made and the evidence found with Benjamin (Gen 44:12). The brothers are ushered into the presence of Joseph, the Governor, Grand Vizier of Egypt, and they throw themselves to the ground before him. Grovel grovel grovel. Remembers the dream of the bowing sheaves of corn (Gen 42:9).

Judah pleads their cause, not protesting innocence, but indeed admitting guilt (Gen 44:16). Not that they admit stealing the silver cup, but they know that they are guilty of some horrendous crime, selling their brother into slavery some 22 years ago. (Joseph was 17 years old when sold into slavery (Gen 37:2), 30 years old when entering the services of Pharaoh king of Egypt (Gen 41:46), which means 13 years after being sold by his brothers, there were seven fat years, bringing him to 20 years in Pharaoh's service, and they are two years into the famine (Gen 45:6), making it 22 years since he was sold into slavery.) So for 22 years the guilt lay on his brothers' shoulders, at times consciously, at times subconsciously. But now, in the face of accusation of the Grand Vizier of Egypt, they declare "God has uncovered our guilt" and they put themselves at the disposal of Joseph (Gen 44:16).

Joseph asks only for Benjamin, as a test of the moral and ethical fibre of his brothers (Gen 44:17). Judah's response is dramatic, passionate, eloquent, loving and self sacrificial. He humbles himself as servant and elevates Joseph to rank of Pharaoh. Sir Walter Scott has called this plea "the most complete pattern of genuine natural eloquence extant in any language". We should read it carefully and learn from it. Judah relates how they had first told of their own family (father and young brother) in response to Joseph's original enquiries when they first came to buy grain (Gen 42:13, Gen 44:20). He then relates how unwilling Jacob had been to send Benjamin to Egypt (Gen 44:25-29), and predicts the grief of Jacob if Benjamin does not return to Egypt. This grief and blame, Judah firmly accepts (Gen 44:30-32). Judah implores Joseph to allow Benjamin to go and accept Judah as hostage in his place, and all in the name of love for Jacob (Gen 44:33-34).

Such a change of heart! From a man who sold a brother into slavery to a man who would accept slavery in order to free his brother, and spare his father of grief. This was a change that would touch the heart of Joseph, and surely this was a change that touched the heart of God. Surely, if there is a lesson to be learned from this passage it must be this: that God's love transcends all, and if we would but humble ourselves, and pray, and seek God's face, and turn from our wicked ways, then God would hear from heaven, and forgive our sins, and heal our land (2 Chron 7:14). What a promise! What a loving God.

Let us close in prayer. Father God, each of us have sinned. And you know it Father. There is nothing that we do or think that escapes you. Yet you love us Father. And you forgive us as soon as we confess our sins, no matter how dark they be. And your forgiveness is unconditional and complete. You wipe the slate clean. You treat us as pure and holy, and you accept us into your presence, both now and forever. Thank you Father. Give us the courage to confess our sins and the strength to turn over a new leaf, to walk the straight and narrow, to walk daily with you. In Jesus name, Amen.

In his love, Dad.

For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min

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