By Norman P. Grubb
Now they had this meal together. According to certain standards they ate at different tables, but had the same dinner together…and with a special portion for Benjamin. It got to where they became really free with each other. “They drank and were merry with him.” Now he had reached the place where these men, who should have been full of fear or awe, were making jokes with him. Bit by bit he was melting down barriers between them. Something was happening…they began to like this man. But how could he be nice to them? What sort of ruler is this who is kind to them, gives them a big feast, gives them money, and takes them into his home? Yet there was still to come the final evidence of repentance. Then Joseph played his final trick.
I don’t know how he caught onto this one. We’re not told. Certain surprises turn up in the Bible, you can’t tell how. How did Gideon get the idea of putting torches in pots and blowing trumpets? It was quite original. What suddenly occurred to Joseph was a means of bringing them to a final point of desperation…to the place of no escape. Suddenly it came to him to do this thing…to send them back, not only with money in their sacs, but to put what he called his silver cup into Benjamin’s sack. (The steward called it his “divining” cup, but Joseph had better divination than that! He had the divination inside him!) Then, when they started on the journey, he sent his messengers after them to say, “You stole my cup.” “Oh, we couldn’t do such a thing as that.” Utter dismay! They opened up the sack and Benjamin had it. That really tore them apart. They rushed back; they were caught in it now. This was the time they fell on their faces. That was different from previous bowing the neck. Bowing the neck was politeness. Falling on their faces was a smash up. “Judah and his brethren came to Joseph’s house,” and “they fell before him on the ground.” Of course, Joseph looked apparently severe and even pretended he could divine by that stolen cup! (44:15) Then Judah came out. Here was the completion of what Joseph was looking for. The sign from God that the moment had come for making himself known to them was when Judah stepped out in front of him and told how they had promised to take Benjamin back to Jacob, and then he said, “For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, ‘If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to my father forever.’ Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brethren. For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad not be with me?” That was it. He had put himself for life to be a slave to Joseph or in prison in the place of Benjamin, which was taking on himself the slavery into which he had sent Joseph.
Now Joseph said, “This is it! Now we’re right through, we have really faced all that was gone in the past, and I’ve seen the recognition of their guilt and distress, and we’ve made a bond of fellowship enough for me to be able to approach them without a shock. It was too much for him. He cried before them all, loud enough for all Pharaoh’s house to hear. He sent all his staff out of the room, and stood up and made himself know to his brethren. “I am Joseph,” he said. “Doth my father yet live?” They couldn’t answer him because they were dumbfounded…but not as they would have been without these step by step approaches. There had been a softening of the ground, but, of course, “They were troubled.” That wonderful statement: “You meant it for evil, God meant it for good.” This is one of the great statements of the Bible…proof that God means evil for good purposes. Therefore all evil should never be seen as evil; it should only be seen as some means by which God is bringing out some manifestation of His good. Always see the goodness of God!
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By Norman P. Grubb