Read Genesis 44:1-13
1Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house: "Fill the men's sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man's silver in the mouth of his sack. 2Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one's sack, along with the silver for his grain." And he did as Joseph said.
3As morning dawned, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys. 4They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, "Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, 'Why have you repaid good with evil? 5Isn't this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.'"
6When he caught up with them, he repeated these words to them. 7But they said to him, "Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything like that! 8We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the silver we found inside the mouths of our sacks. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master's house? 9If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord's slaves."
10"Very well, then," he said, "let it be as you say. Whoever is found to have it will become my slave; the rest of you will be free from blame."
11Each of them quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it. 12Then the steward proceeded to search, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin's sack. 13At this, they tore their clothes. Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city. (NIV)
For me, this is a strange passage. Joseph continues to both bless his brothers and test his brothers at the same time. I think this is our struggle with people who have hurt us but are also close to us. We are confused. We want revenge, but we also want love. Joseph I believe wanted to both revenge his brothers for the years of suffering they caused him, but at the same time, he missed being with family. We see in earlier interactions with his brothers, Joseph inquires about the family as a whole. He longs for them.
And so Joseph once again puts the money back in the bags of his brothers. But he also puts a cup in the bag of Benjamin, his true brother, to accuse him of stealing. We see in this that he also cannot let them go once more without keeping a connection so the family will return.
As for the brothers, they are sure of their innocence. They freely tell the Egyptians who come to accuse them of theft, search our bags and the one who has it will be punished. Little did they know that it was in Benjamin’s bag, the one son whom Judah gave his word that he would bring back.
As I think of this, I think of the problems we encounter in life. Some are of our own making. For the brothers, part of this problem was their selling their brother into slavery. And other problems just come our way. Again, for the brothers, they did not steal the cup. But in life, what we have done and what we are innocent of have a strange way of intertwining together to create obstacles for us.
Paul in his letter to the Corinthians writes, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) God knows life happens to us and that there are times we get caught up in our own troubles with stuff added that we had nothing to do. Paul reminds us that God will not let us go down that path too far without giving us a way out. Our problem is we often don’t take the way out.
Joseph’s brothers have been caught up in a problem that is both their doing and things being done to them. But as we will see, a way out will be found and often it begins with confession as we talked about earlier.
Have you gotten caught up in problems you thought when will this end? Joseph’s brothers had to be thinking this problem will never go away. How do you lean on God in times of trouble? Do you trust God will make a way? Have you ever experienced God making a way?
Life is hard, but God is there to help us. We need to learn to listen and to trust.
Blessings and Peace