Friday, January 22, 2016

All Things New: Judah, the Guilty Road...part 3

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Something like 20 years passed since Judah pulled his brother out of the cistern and traded him off for 20 pieces of silver.   I wonder what he did with his two-piece share.  Did he spend it right away, just to get it out of sight?  Did he put it away somewhere, feeling wrong about even possessing it? How many nights did he lay in bed, awake, wondering what happened to his younger brother?

He had wandered away from his family, from his God, and returned with twin sons.

And then....

Drought.  Serious drought.  The crops shriveled, the sheep starved.  Passing travelers brought word that there was grain to be bought in Egypt.  Jacob looked at the starving flocks and his paltry reserves and sent Judah, along with the rest of his sons, save Benjamin, to make the journey to Egypt to buy some grain to hopefully tide them over until the rains came again.

They made the journey, which was at once disastrous and successful.  They returned to Jacob with grain but without Simeon, who had been kept as a hostage to prove that they were not spies.  And, as it turned out, they had also returned with all the money that they had given to the Egyptians for the grain.

Free grain.  But...what had happened?  Were they now to be considered thieves as well as spies?

Jacob was distraught...Joseph was dead, Simeon was gone, and now it seemed he would lose Benjamin...his only living son from his beloved well.  He refused to let them return with Benjamin, despite Reuben's offer of his two sons as hostage.

But the famine continued.  They ate the grain, the livestock ate the grain, and soon they were once again in dire straits.  Jacob called them in and told them to go get more.

Judah reminded him of the Egyptian's requirements, and offered to take personal care of Benjamin.  Finally, recognizing the futility of refusing, Israel relented, sending a generous gift of local produce as well as twice the purchase price, to repay what they had inadvertently brought home the first time.

The brothers were very anxious when they arrived at Egypt, and doubly so when they were escorted to what appeared to be a palace, fearing they were about to be judged as thieves and all their goods confiscated.  But the Egyptian official's servant assured them that he had payment from them before, and that any money they found had to be a gift from their God. Simeon was released to them and they all ate with the Egyptian,  who went abruptly from the room several times, no doubt due to his responsibilities.  Benjamin was especially well treated, but they all drank well of the wine and likely had headaches when they left the next morning.

They did not get far down the road before they were overtaken and hauled back to town, the Egyptian's special cup mysteriously being found in Benjamin's bag.  The official was insistent that Benjamin had to remain behind as his slave for stealing the cup, but the rest could go home.

Judah could not let that happen.  He took great care to explain the situation to the Egyptian, offering himself as slave rather than Benjamin, for he could not bear to bring such news back to his father.  The Egyptian shocked them all by sending everyone else out of the room and then declaring to them, in Hebrew, 'I am Joseph!'

There was much weeping and embracing as Joseph repeatedly told them that it was God who had sent him ahead of them, that there were still five more years of famine and instructed them to return home and get Jacob and bring him to Egypt so that Joseph could provide for them all.

Judah's guilt was lifted and done away with.  Joseph forgave them...forgave him...and even stated that all those events had worked together to save their lives now.  Guilt would flicker up once more, briefly when Jacob died, but Joseph would reassure them all again that 'what you meant for evil, God has used for good.'  Twenty years of self accusation and shame and guilt were done away with when they saw that God had, indeed, turned it all around for good.

They left to bring Jacob back to see his son.

Judah had come to the place where his father's heart meant more to him than his own future.  And at that point, he saw the reversal of all that he had believed ruined and dead.  What had happened in the past only mattered in that it had allowed salvation to come to them all.  Now he could walk in anticipation of the future, instead of shame and regret for the past.  His life, literally, was beginning again.

What areas of shame and regret am I allowing to discredit the future?  How can I release those to the Father, so that He can turn what I believed was death into a whole new resurrection? 

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