THE NEW EWE
"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
May 14, 2008
Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”
Genesis 50: 20 “And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”
Joseph's brothers have just returned to Egypt for the second time, this time bringing their youngest brother, Benjamin, with them. When Joseph saw them, he told his steward, “Take these men to my house, slaughter an animal and prepare dinner; they are to eat with me at noon.”
The brothers were frightened when they saw that they had been taken to Joseph's home. They thought, “We were brought here because of the silver that was put back in our sacks the first time. He wants to attack us and overpower us and seize us as slaves and take our donkeys.”
Remember that up to this point, Joseph has never spoken directly to them, but has used an interpreter. The first time they went to Egypt, he had accused them of being spies. Then they found all their money had been returned to them by being placed in the mouths of the sacks of grain. They had promised their father that they would return Benjamin safely back to him. They are in a foreign country where the language and customs are different than theirs. The burden of responsibility of making sure that Benjamin remained unharmed and was safely returned to their father must have been very heavy on all their minds during the whole trip. Now fear and dread of what is going to happen to them is weighing upon them.
At the entrance to the house, they stop the steward and relate to him what had happened on their last trip and about the money being returned to them. They assure him that they have not only brought that money back, but also the money for the new grain.
“It's all right,” the steward said, “Don't be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver.” Then he brought Simeon, whom Joseph had imprisoned on their first trip, out to them.
The steward took the men into Joseph's house, gave them water to wash their feet, and provided food for their donkeys.
Upon Joseph's arrival, the brothers presented him with the gifts their father had sent with them; then they bowed down before him.
Joseph asked how they were doing, and then he said, “How is your aged father you told me about? Is he still living?” They assured him that their father was still alive and well.
As Joseph then looked and saw Benjamin, his own mother's son, he asked, “Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about?” And he said, “God be gracious to you, my son.”
Deeply moved at the sight of his brother, Joseph hurried out of the room and went to his private quarters so that he could weep. After being in Egypt for so many years, I'm not sure that Joseph really believed that he would be reunited with his family ever again. Now he finds out that his father is still alive, and all of his brothers are sitting in his house to share a meal with him. The emotion he felt was overwhelming.
After their meal, Joseph instructs his steward, “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. Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one's sack, along with the silver for his grain.”
Joseph had not disclosed his brother's identity to anyone up to that point. It shows the respect and trust the steward had in Joseph, that he would obey each time without question. You would think that in his mind he would be questioning the actions of his master. The first trip he is told to put the money paid for the grain back into these men's sacks. Now they show up again, and Joseph tells him to have a meal fixed for these guys and take them to his house. Now he is told to once again put their money back into their sacks, and to put Joseph's own personal silver cup in the youngest brother's sack. I'm sure that Joseph's actions made no sense to him.
If only we would show that same obedience to God. That even when He asks us to do things that makes no sense whatsoever to us, we would be quick to respond, without question; trusting and believing that He has His reasons. Joseph was in a position where he did not have to explain himself or his request. All he had to do was speak, and he would be obeyed. How much more so should we be quick to respond when God makes a request of us. But we somehow feel like God owes us an explanation each and every time He asks us to do something.
Early the next morning, the eleven brothers left to go back home to Canaan. They had not gone far from the city, when Joseph sent his steward after them with these instructions. “Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, 'Why have you repaid good with evil? Isn't this the cup my master drinks from? This is a wicked thing you have done.'”
The steward once again follows Joseph's instructions. But the brothers said to him, “Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything like that! We 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? If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord's slaves.”
The men were very certain of their honesty and integrity. They knew they were not thieves, and did not understand why they would be falsely accused of this wrongdoing.
Each of them quickly lowered their sack to open it. Then the steward began to search, beginning with the oldest to the youngest. When they saw that the cup was found in Benjamin's sack, they tore their clothes as a sign of their grief and disbelief. Immediately they loaded their donkeys back up and returned to Joseph's house.
The brothers threw themselves on the ground before Joesph. Judah asked, “What can we say to my lord? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants' guilt. We are now my lord's slaves – we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup.”
But Joseph said, “Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the man who was found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you, go back to your father in peace.”
The brothers knew that was impossible and were willing to lay themselves on the line for Benjamin. Judah spoke up again and said, “Please, my lord, let your servant speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself. My lord asked his servants, 'Do you have a father or brother?' And we answered we have an aged father, and there is a young son born to him in his old age. His brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother's sons left, and his father loves him.”
Judah proceeded to remind Joseph of his request for them to bring Benjamin to Egypt. They had told him that the boy could not leave his father; if he leaves him, his father will die. But Joseph had told them that they would not have another audience with him unless they brought him with them. He then proceeded to repeat their conversation with their father, Jacob.
I think it's interesting that the scripture refers to Benjamin as a boy or lad, depending upon the translation. Rachel had given birth to Joseph, then a few years later while giving birth to Benjamin, she died. I remember when I was a little girl in Sunday School and the teacher would put paper pictures up on a flannel board as she told the story (do any of you remember that!), it would always show Benjamin as a young boy. But we know that Joseph was seventeen when he was first sold into slavery, and was thirty years old when placed in his current position. The seven years of plenty had already passed. In Genesis 45:11, Joseph tells his brothers that two years of famine had past and there were five more to come. So by doing the math, it shows that Joseph was approximately age 39 at this time. So more than likely, Benjamin is in his early to mid-thirties. Later in chapter 46 when it lists each brother and their families who traveled to Egypt with Jacob, it lists that Benjamin had ten sons! I think probably the older brothers were referring to Benjamin being born when Jacob was older, and him being so much younger then they were. The older brothers very likely had children older than Benjamin.
Judah now proceeds to tell Joseph, “If the boy is not with us when I go back to my father, and if my father, whose life is closely bound up with the boy's life, sees that the boy isn't there, he will die.” He went on to tell Joseph that he had guaranteed the boy's safety to his father. Judah begged Joseph to please let him remain there in Egypt as his slave, in Benjamin's place so that the boy could return back home to his father.
Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” He was getting ready to make his identity known to his brothers. This was a very private, personal time that was a long time in coming, and was a time for him to be alone with his family.
The scripture says that Joseph wept so loudly that the Egyptians [who had just left him] heard him, and the household of Pharaoh heard about it.
Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified and distressed at the realization that they were standing in his presence.
Can you imagine their shock! They had spent the last twenty-two years believing that he was probably dead. They certainly never expected him to see him in a position as second-in-command to the king of Egypt. I'm sure they were fearful for their life, wondering if Joseph would get his revenge for what they had done to him.
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping (harvesting). But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. Now hurry back to my father and say to him, 'This is what your son Joseph says: 'God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don't delay. You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me – you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have.' I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.”
Joseph ended by saying, “You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. Tell my father about all my splendor (or honor) in Egypt, and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.”
Then Joseph threw his arms around Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterwards they all sat down and talked.
What an awesome reunion! The brothers didn't have to do anything to pay their debt to Joseph, they didn't have to beg and plead for his forgiveness. They weren't punished because of their actions. In fact, Joseph had realized over the years that even though his brothers may not have had the right motive or intentions when they had sold him, God was actually the one who was directing his steps.
God had known twenty-two years prior to all this happening, what was going to take place. No, He didn't approve of the brothers' jealousy and actions against Joseph, but He used them in order to position Joseph for the place he needed to be in for this period in time.
Too many events we attribute to “being a coincidence”, when it is actually God who is orchestrating events and situations in order for His will to be accomplished. It is He who is “working all things together for our good.”
Many years earlier, Joseph had told his brothers about a dream he had which prophesied that the brothers would bow down to Joseph. You could probably easily imagine the second-youngest, twerpy little brother rubbing it in that they might one day bow down to him.
And then it happened. They didn't realize till later. But they did all bow down to Joseph. It must have been very humbling for them to bow down. And when it finally sank in later, that and that they owed so much to Joseph, it must have been even more humbling. Maybe even humiliating.
But it also marked a turning point in their lives. They were being invited to move to the only prosperous country and be guests of the second highest ruler in the whole land.
It seems amazingly common that humility comes before a great turn for the better. They say that pride comes before a fall. I guess this is the same, just in reverse.
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire
2 tsp. Celery Salt
2 Tbsp. Liquid Smoke
1 Tsp. Onion Salt
2 tsp. Black Pepper
1 tsp. Garlic Salt
Mix well and sprinkle over brisket and let marinade overnight (or at least a few hours). Wrap brisket in foil. Seal, place on a baking sheet, and bake for 4 hours at 300. Uncover for last hour.
**Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the brisket. You can either pour 1 cup BBQ sauce over the brisket when you get ready to cook, or for the last hour.
Instead of cooking in the oven for a smaller brisket, I cook it all day on high in a crockpot (don't use the foil), which works very well. You can also use this marinade, then cook on an outside smoker. I also prefer using a little more Worcestershire and Liquid Smoke than what the recipe calls for.
My sister and brother-in-law keep a little 6-year old deaf boy part-time. He is very bright, very cute, and such a sweet little boy; and he's also extremely observant. A few days ago, I kept him at my house while my sister went to a dental appointment. He was playing in my backyard, so I decided to mow, since there was a chance for rain later that evening. That way I could get my yard mowed and still keep an eye on him. I had bought him a toy where you pull a trigger and it shoots bubbles. He was playing with that and pretending that our shed was his house. Every time I circled around where he could see me, he would do something to get my attention. He would wave, holler at me, or sign something. I really didn't think he was paying that much attention to what I was doing. I found out differently though! When I got to our peach tree, I was circling it to mow around the perimeter of it. He ran over to where I was and curved his hand around, then moved it straight to show me that I was supposed to curve around the tree, then go straight. Then he raised his eyebrows and looked at me like, “Do you understand what I'm telling you?” I signed okay, nodded yes, and he gave me a high-five and ran back to “his house”. It was so funny and really cracked me up. The next time I came around I had to kind of swerve the mower so I could get under the lower limbs of the peach tree. Apparently he had been watching me to see if I'd do it right. He hollered to get my attention, and when I looked over to where he was, he once again showed me with his hand how I was supposed to curve around, then go straight. Then he looked at me like, “Are you sure you have it this time?!” I gave him a thumbs up, so he smiled real big, waved at me and went back to playing. Who knew that I would have such a little critic!
“Something very special happens when we feel safe enough to laugh. It's fun to laugh! Also, laughter plays an essential role in our emotional and spiritual well-being.” - Bill Gaither
We love you!
Loretta & Jon