Friday, 21 January 2011

Fearsome Grace

Genesis 44-45 Joseph devises one more test for his brothers. He frames his younger brother by placing the money and cup in his sack to see if his brothers will leave him to rot or if they will stand by him. He even gives them a get out clause saying that only Benjamin need be his slave and the rest of them can get off scott free!

What is interesting how guilt operates in these brothers. They clearly associate this present calamity they are facing as judgement for their sin against Joseph.

But instead of that Judah - in a tear jerker of a move - offers to become the slave in the place of his brother Benjamin. The one who had caused his brother Joseph to innocently suffer all those years ago, the betrayer, now stands before that same brother offering himself up as a substitute for the "guilty" party. It is all too much for Joseph and he reveals himself to them.

The brothers are stunned. Although Joseph shows them no malice and indeed reassures them that it was God's intention for all this to take place, they will find it hard to accept his kindness over the coming days. The purposes and grace of God are often hard to accept and believe.

Pharaoh is thrilled to hear that family have come to town and he offers them the land of Goshen. God's people, in God's timing, have become the head (and not the tail) of the Egyptian empire, and everyone is living under the blessing God gave to Jacob!

Of course the down side of all this is that they will have to confess to their father. Joseph knows this so tells them not to quarrel on the way home.

Psalm 20 The Name of God is another way of referring to Christ in the Old Testament. Read the Psalm like that and the words of the great Matthew Henry on this Psalm ring even richer than before: In Christ's salvation let us rejoice; and set up our banners in the name of the Lord our God, assured that by the saving strength of his right hand we shall be conquerors over every enemy.

Matt 8:23-34 You might think that the locals would be happy, when Jesus exorcised these two demon-possessed men, but they are not, in fact they are so frightened by him they ask him to leave. Truly there are many who prefer the familiarity of their chains, no matter how tightly they are bound than walking into the glorious freedom of the children of God!

Acts 12 It is no small thing to mess with Jesus and his church. Whether you get away with it for a long time or only a little time isn't the point. Saul driven by blind rage gets grace, but Herod driven by the praise of men receives divine intervention of a different kind when the Lord strikes him dead for not humbling himself. Why God judges one and saves another, I don't know. Stand in awe of God.

It is good to be part of the people of God, but this is no trifling matter - it is life or death in every sense.


Olumuyiwa Ajagbe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Olumuyiwa Ajagbe said...

That's interesting. I always thought it to be a way the bring his family to Egypt to save them from the famine, not necessarily a test. I see it, though. Thanks for the insight.