November 2, 2014: Two great moments in every human being’s life!

Posted on : Oct 30th, 2014 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Our story of Joseph and his brothers has just about reached its conclusion. Previously we’ve followed Joseph’s life journey from the Pit to Prison to the Palace. His life, like ours, was not simple. Joseph’s life was filled with ups and downs – extreme ups and downs.

Once Joseph was released from prison and elevated by Pharaoh as his top commander, one might think that Joseph had finally “made it.” He was the second most powerful person in all the land – just slightly below Pharaoh. But Joseph also carried his history with him.

He was hated by his brothers, sold into slavery, and lost all contact with the father and mother whom he deeply loved. He, like so many of us, lived a life that everyone thought was great, but in reality, there was still something missing. In what we might call a rare coincidence, Joseph’s brothers – the very ones who abandoned him and sold him into slavery – came to him begging for food. And in fulfillment of the dream he had when he was a young boy, every time his brothers appeared before him, they bowed down to him.

Joseph could have been angry his whole life long; but he wasn’t. He was grateful to God for the blessings he received and he knew he was blessed to be a blessing to others.

Dr. Ernest Campbell, the former pastor of Riverside Church in New York City, once said, “There are two great moments in every human being’s life: the moment when they are born and the moment when they begin to discover why they are born.”

That was Joseph’s experience in this Sunday’s portion of his story; and it is also a lesson of great insight for us as we think about the meaning of our lives as we celebrate All Saints Sunday.

Blessings,

Dan

 

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Genesis 43-45

(Note: The names “Jacob” and “Israel” are used interchangeably. Remember, after Jacob’s dream in which he wrestled with God, God re-named him “Israel.” Either name refers to the father of the twelve sons who become “the twelve tribes” of Israel…Ta dah!)

The famine persisted in the land of Canaan, and when the grain they brought up from Egypt ran out, Israel (aka: Jacob, Joseph’s father) said to his sons, “Go back and buy more grain for us to eat.”

Judah said to his father, “The official there (Joseph) gave us a solemn warning, “You will not be admitted into my presence if you are without your brother.” If you allow our brother to accompany us, we will go down and buy food for you. So if you don’t let him go with us, we can’t go.

Then Israel said to them, “If it must be, do it. Take some choice fruits of our land to the official – some balsam, a little honey, some spices and myrrh, pistachio nuts and almonds. Take twice as much silver, for you must return the silver that was put in your sacks. It might have been an oversight. Take your youngest brother, Benjamin, too, and return to the official at once. May our Merciful God be merciful to you before the official, so that he will allow both your brother Simeon whom you left behind and Benjamin to return with you.

So they took the gifts and twice the amount of silver as before, and Benjamin, as well. They made their way to Egypt as quickly as they could and presented themselves to Joseph. When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of the house, take these people to my house, slaughter an animal and prepare a meal, for they will eat the noon meal with me.”

The stewards did as ordered. Now the brothers were frightened. They speculated, “We were brought here because of the silver put into our bags the last time. He intends to attack us, enslave us, and seize our donkeys.

So, they spoke to Joseph’s steward when they got to the house. “It’s all right,” the steward said, “don’t be afraid.” Your God, the God of your ancestors, put the silver in your sacks. I received full payment for the grain.” Then the steward released their brother Simeon, who was being held in jail until their return with their younger brother, Benjamin.

When Joseph arrived, they presented him with the gifts they brought from Canaan, bowing low to the ground. He asked them how they were, and then inquired, ‘How is your father, the old one? Is he well? Is he still living?”

They answered, “Our father is alive and well.” And they paid homage to Joseph, bowing low.

Joseph look about and spotted Benjamin, his own mother’s child, and inquires, “Is this the youngest, the one you told me about?” He added, “May God be gracious to you, my boy!” Joseph, deeply moved by the sight of Benjamin, left quickly, and went to his private chambers to weep.

Eventually Joseph controlled himself and washed his face, and then returned to the visitors and ordered the meal to be served.

Joseph instructed the steward, “Fill each bag with as much food as they can carry, and put the money they paid in the top of each bag. Then put my silver goblet in the top of the young one’s bag along with the silver he paid for the grain.” The steward did as instructed.

Benjamin was “caught” and accused of stealing Joseph’s silver goblet (cup). They were all brought before Joseph.

Judah, one of the brothers, approached Joseph and said, “Sir, let me have just one word with you, and do not be angry with me. When you asked us ‘Do you have a father or another brother?’ we replied, ‘we do, we have an aged father and a younger half-bother, the child of our father’s old age. His full brother is dead, and since he is the only child left by that mother, the aged father dotes on him.’

Then you told us, ‘bring him down to me that my eyes may look on him.’ We said to you, sir, ‘the boy must stay with his father. If he leaves the father will die.’ But you said to us, ‘unless the youngest brother comes back with you, you will not come into my presence again.’

So if the boy is not with us when we return to our father, and if our father does not see the boy, he will die.

Then Joseph said to the brothers, “Come closer to me.” When they had come closer he said to them, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into slavery! Please don’t rebuke yourselves for having sold me here. God sent me here ahead of you so that I could save your lives.”

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