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Joseph Tests His Brothers

The Bible in Art: Joseph Tests His Brothers

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Verses for Consideration: Genesis 43:11-14

 

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.”

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At times all of us must make major decisions that will change the course of our lives and the lives of those we love. When we reach those crossroads, we desperately need the guidance only God can give. One of the ways our loving God prepares us is with Bible stories of how he guided his people in the past.

Jacob is an excellent example of this. In these verses, however, the Holy Spirit calls him Israel, the new name the Lord gave him. The name means he “struggled with God and with men” and overcame. God gave him that name after he learned to rely entirely on the Lord.

In our reading we see him standing at a major crossroad in his life. He is trusting God to guide him. He confidently sends his sons back to Egypt for grain, even though they must take along his youngest, dearest son, Benjamin. He instructs them to pay back the silver, mysteriously returned on their first trip, and hopefully win the favor of the Egyptian ruler.

Jacob knows he cannot rely on paybacks and presents. He prays for divine help in the hearing of his sons: “May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man so that he will let your other brother and Benjamin come back with you.” Jacob wants all his sons safe at home.

Yet Jacob knows that things may not go as well as he hopes. So, like believers of all times, he prayerfully considers the worst possibility. Then he places all his fears in the hands of his heavenly Father. In faithful resignation he says, “As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved.”

We too need to learn to say, “Your will be done.” And we can do that in confidence, knowing that God’s mercy will give us far more blessings than we could ask or imagine.

When the brothers finally return to their father, they not only bring back Simeon and Benjamin, but they come with an invitation from Jacob’s long lost son, Joseph, to come and live with him in Egypt. How sweet it is to trust in the Lord!

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me place my life into your hands, knowing that your mercy is great. Amen.

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Title: Joseph’s Brothers Find the Silver Goblet in Benjamin’s Sack (1831-33) 

Artist: Alexander Ivanov