Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Brothers Report to Jacob on Arrival - Genesis 42:29-34

When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them, saying, “The man, the lord of the land, spoke harshly with us, and took us for spies of the country.  But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies. We are twelve brothers, sons of our father; one is no more, and the youngest is with our father today in the land of Canaan.’ And the man, the lord of the land, said to us, ‘By this I shall know that you are honest men: leave one of your brothers with me and take grain for the famine of your households, and go. But bring your youngest brother to me that I may know that you are not spies, but honest men.  I will give your brother to you, and you may trade in the land.’”

The brothers arrive back in Canaan and proceed to tell Jacob what had transpired.  He may or may not have noticed right away that Simeon was missing.  Surely Simeon’s family would have. They reported how “the lord of the land” had spoken harshly to them and accused them of being spies.  They had argued they weren’t and told him who they were but to no avail.  He had insisted that they leave Simeon, return home with grain, and bring Benjamin back to him.  In return, he would give them back Simeon, and allow them to trade freely in Egypt.

Here are two very quick thoughts on this short passage of scripture.  First, can you imagine how the brothers must have felt having to tell this story to their father, Jacob? Many years ago, he had sent Joseph to find them and he never returned, believing him to have been killed by a wild animal (although the brothers knew they had sold him to traders as a potential slave in Egypt), then they left Simeon behind in Egypt, and now they are asking Jacob to trust them with the youngest son of his beloved Rachel.  This was not going to be an easy job of persuasion and rightly so.

Second, can you imagine how Jacob felt as he listened to this story and what was being asked of him?  He was caught between the fear of losing yet another son and making a decision which would otherwise cause his whole extended family to starve over time.  This was not going to be an easy decision.

What are the implications for us?  Have you ever had to deliver a very difficult message?  Perhaps you had to tell someone -- a child or an older parent or a spouse -- about a loss in the family, or the loss of a job, or a very bad medical diagnosis, or a pending divorce?  The list is endless.  Where do you get your strength?  Who will stand with you?  By whom will you be comforted?  Let me suggest to you that once the actual words of your news gets out of your mouth, no matter what precautions and preparations you have made, you have lost all control of how the other person reacts.  It is then and there that you need to leave the matter with God who alone can deal with the consequences.  It is at a time like that when we as Christians can be assured that we can indeed “take Jesus with us” as we share the news we have to deliver.  That is part of what it means to “be in Him” and knowing that He is in us.

And what can we learn as recipients of bad news?  As I have grown in my faith over the years, and have seen some of the very difficult things many fellow believers and some non-believers were experiencing in life, I learned to ask, not “why me, God?” because that didn’t apply, but rather the question, “why not me, God?”  You see, I was asking God why He chose not to allow some of those very difficult circumstances to be felt and experienced by me.   And God, in His eternal wisdom, would not answer me.  As I searched for the reason of His silence, I was led to the following conclusions.  First, I probably was not ready to successfully handle such circumstances yet and God knew it.  And he loves me so much, He didn’t want me to be devastated by them.  I may even not be able to survive them now. Only He knows. Secondly, as I mature, I must be prepared to face such circumstances should God decide to allow them.  If I ask, “why not me, God?” then I must be prepared to have Him say, “Okay, this time, it is you.  Let’s see how you will handle it my child.”  And when that happens, I had better have Jesus Christ in me and face it all with Him.  I pray that you can and will do likewise.

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