A wobble at the top and a substitute


As we saw in a reading last week, the Bible isn't a book about heroes to copy, Joseph almost seems to be the exception, but in Genesis 44 is there a wobble? Joseph's brothers have filled up on grain and then are heading off, Joseph has ordered his steward to put the brothers' money back and to put his silver cup in Benjamin's sack with a view to accusing them of theft.  Joseph tells his steward to tell the brothers that he knows because of 'divination' (44:5, see also 44:15) - whether this is something that Joseph has been practicing or whether this is what others think of him, he is either lying or practicing divination, in either case, he does not seem to be giving God the glory.  Joseph is not perfect.  It's all part of a ploy to hold Benjamin back and eventually to reveal who he is and what God has been doing, but the method doesn't seem quite right!  The ends don't justify the means.

Someone who appears to have changed in this account is Judah - the one who had previously sold Joseph into slavery (37:26-27), and not treated his daughter-in-law too well (Gen 38), now offers to stand in Benjamin's place, taking the punishment for Benjamin, becoming a slave instead of him.  "His self-sacrificing love for his brother for the sake of his father prefigures the vicarious atonement of Christ, who by his voluntary sufferings heals the breach between God and human beings." (Waltke, Genesis) And of course, the Lord Jesus Christ was born in the line of Judah, who, as today's reading from Galatians tells us "gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age" (Galatians 1:4).  The Lord Jesus Christ never had a wobble at the top, but went to the bottom for us, that we might be raised with him. No wonder our reading from Galatians 1 shows us that Paul had no time for anyone who distorted this wonderful news.